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.