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Public Health Rep. 2002; 117(Suppl 1): S135–S145.
PMCID: PMC1913691

Social determinants and the health of drug users: socioeconomic status, homelessness, and incarceration.


OBJECTIVES: This article reviews the evidence on the adverse health consequences of low socioeconomic status, homelessness, and incarceration among drug users. OBSERVATIONS: Social and economic factors shape risk behavior and the health of drug users. They affect health indirectly by shaping individual drug-use behavior; they affect health directly by affecting the availability of resources, access to social welfare systems, marginalization, and compliance with medication. Minority groups experience a disproportionately high level of the social factors that adversely affect health, factors that contribute to disparities in health among drug users. CONCLUSION: Public health interventions aimed at improving the health of drug users must address the social factors that accompany and exacerbate the health consequences of illicit drug use.

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