Delivering Drug Treatment to New Minority Communities: Fresh Perspectives
This thesis addresses the confluence of the issues of drug use and migration. Using data that explores the needs of new communities, it argues that members of new minority communities who use drugs suffer double discrimination as migrants and as drug users. In failing to address this intersection of need, drug policy and practice compound this discrimination. The data for this submission was drawn from three empirical research projects undertaken for Peterborough Drug Action Team and the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. These research projects addressed previously unreached communities and gathered new data. I published my work among peer-reviewed literature in the form of two journal articles and a book chapter. The research reports and published works inform my thesis. This submission reanalyses the research, using an intersectional lens to understand problems emanating from drug use in the context of migration. Black and minority ethnic people form a small proportion of problem drug users and their needs were under-researched until the late 1990s. A growing body of research has focused on established minority communities, while the drug treatment needs of members of new groups of migrants, whether economic migrants or refugees, remain hidden. My research addresses the impact of policy and practice on new communities. Engaging with members of hard-to-reach groups via community-based researchers, I gathered views about the attitudes and needs of new minority groups and developed a fresh perspective. My work demonstrates that while drug misusers suffer very real discrimination and stigma they also have strengths that could be assets for their recovery. I offer an analysis of the reasons why these strengths are underutilised by a policy agenda that perceives drug misuse as the main feature of the lives of service users in new minority communities. This perception dates back to the first phase of modern drug policy. During the 1980s drug use spread throughout the country, driven by the availability of cheap heroin. The demography of drug users shifted towards white, younger unemployed men and the drugs/crime nexus became the focus of attention. This determined policy development. The context and profile of drug use has changed since 1980; however the decisions of the past affect those taken in the present, and I argue that policy continues to view other issues in individuals’ lives as subsidiary to drug use and its treatment. My work has had an impact in practice and in the academic literature and presents significant new knowledge. In order to respond effectively to drug use in new minority communities, policy and practice must employ an intersectional viewpoint, sharing power and developing coalitions of interest.