Economic and sociocultural poverty in drug abuse: from individual to sociopolitical responsibility


  • Ana Erika Oliveira Galvão Universidade Estadual do Ceará. Faculdade de Educação, Ciências e Letras do Sertão Central
  • Luísa Saavedra Universidade do Minho. Escola de Psicologia
  • Miguel Cameira Universidade do Porto. Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação



Drug Addiction, Structural Violence, Social Suffering


Research on drug abuse has often ignored users’ own opinions and perceptions about their addiction. In this study, we wanted to hear their voice on the reasons and motives why they engaged in drug abuse, and on the consequences this behavior had on their lives. Data were collected in Portugal from interviews with fifteen people under treatment for addictive behavior relative to alcohol and illegal drugs. The interviews were analyzed through Thematic Analysis and revealed the existence of several structural factors impacting on the lives of the participants, namely, gender discrimination, poor schooling, socioeconomic marginalization and exclusion associated to insufficient and inadequate public policies. The action of more symbolic structural factors – for instance, their widespread beliefs on drug addiction as a result of free will – through its internalization by families, friends and by addicts themselves, became visible in interviewees’ narratives, in which the rejection by close ones, as well as their own feelings of guilt, sadness and self-disapproval, are prominent features. As a conclusion, we call attention to the need for an integrated public policy in the educational, health and justice areas, and the implementation of awareness-raising actions aimed at the general public, in order to attenuate the impact of structural factors on the lives of current and potential drug addicts.


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How to Cite

Galvão, A. E. O., Saavedra, L., & Cameira, M. (2018). Economic and sociocultural poverty in drug abuse: from individual to sociopolitical responsibility. Saúde E Sociedade, 27(3), 820-833.