Social exclusion and reintegration

Definitions and concepts

Figure 22

Relationship between social exclusion and drug use

Figure 22

According to the last survey on ‘social precarity and integration’ (99), the proportion of the European population at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Europe varies from 9 % to 22 % (European Council, 2001). People are considered to be socially excluded if they ‘are prevented from participating fully in economic, social and civil life and/or when their access to income and other resources (personal, family and cultural) is so inadequate as to exclude them from enjoying a standard of living that is regarded as acceptable by the society in which they live’ (Gallie and Paugam, 2002).

Social exclusion can thus be defined as a combination of lack of economic resources, social isolation, and limited access to social and civil rights; it is a relative concept within any particular society (CEIES, 1999) and represents a progressive accumulation of social and economic factors over time. Factors that could contribute to social exclusion are problems related to labour, educational and living standards, health, nationality, drug abuse, gender difference and violence (European Council, 2001; National reports, 2002).

Drug use could be viewed as either a consequence or a cause of social exclusion (Carpentier, 2002): drug use can cause a deterioration of living conditions, but, on the other hand, processes of social marginalisation can be a reason for starting drug use. Nevertheless, the relation between drug abuse and social exclusion is not necessarily a causal one, because social exclusion ‘does not apply to all drug consumers’ (Tomas, 2001).

Taking into account this complexity, it is possible both to analyse drug use among socially excluded populations and study social exclusion among drug addicts (Figure 22).


(99Eurobarometer survey 56.1.