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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 122; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010122

The Impact of the 2008 Economic Crisis on Substance Use Patterns in the Countries of the European Union

Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute (CAPRI), Antwerp University, Antwerp 2640, Belgium
Department of Psychiatry, Pomeranian Medical University, Szczecin 71-460, Poland
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, SE5 8AF, UK
The Finnish Association for Mental Health, Helsinki 00240, Finland
Medical Sociology and Health Policy, Antwerp University, Antwerp 2640, Belgium
Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ulf-G. Gerdtham
Received: 19 October 2015 / Revised: 29 December 2015 / Accepted: 4 January 2016 / Published: 13 January 2016
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Background: From 2008 on, a severe economic crisis (EC) has characterized the European Union (E.U.). However, changes in substance use behavioral patterns as a result of the economic crisis in Europe, have been poorly reflected upon, and underlying mechanisms remain to be identified; Methods: In this review we explore and systematize the available data on the effect of the 2008 economic crisis on patterns of substance use and related disorders, within the E.U. countries; Results: The results show that effects of the recession need to be differentiated. A number of studies point to reductions in population’s overall substance use. In contrast, an increase in harmful use and negative effects is found within specific subgroups within the society. Risk factors include job-loss and long-term unemployment, and pre-existing vulnerabilities. Finally, our findings point to differences between types of substances in their response on economic crisis periods; Conclusions: the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on substance use patterns within countries of the European Union are two-sided. Next to a reduction in a population’s overall substance use, a number of vulnerable subgroups experience serious negative effects. These groups are in need of specific attention and support, given that there is a real risk that they will continue to suffer negative health effects long after the economic downfall has formally been ended. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic crisis; European Union; substance use; alcohol; drugs; nicotine economic crisis; European Union; substance use; alcohol; drugs; nicotine

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Dom, G.; Samochowiec, J.; Evans-Lacko, S.; Wahlbeck, K.; Van Hal, G.; McDaid, D. The Impact of the 2008 Economic Crisis on Substance Use Patterns in the Countries of the European Union. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 122.

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