In Britain as a whole, little has been written about drug use and ethnic minority group members. Nothing exists in Scotland. English studies indicate the presence of drug use in various different ethnic minority communities, but little presentation of ethnic minority community members to drug agencies. Without any real evidence of a lower presentation rate than seems to be the case for white people, drug agencies are often criticised for concentrating on what are, for members of ethnic minority groups, the "wrong" drugs; for only having a few, if any, workers drawn from ethnic minority groups; for inspiring less confidence among members of ethnic minority groups that data is held confidentially; and for offering, again for members of ethnic minority groups, the "wrong" services (Introduction).
Against this research background, it was decided to attempt to discover if members of ethnic minority groups in Scotland use illegal drugs; if so, whether there is any resistance to help-seeking; and in either event, whether or not members of ethnic minority groups presented to drug agencies. An age and ethnicity based quota of young males was interviewed in the street in Glasgow during August 1993, and relevant Glaswegian drug agencies surveyed by post. All the street survey respondents were aged between 20 and 29 years old, and half were Asian, and half were white. Asian and white, male and female interviewers were used. The two sub-samples were broadly comparable, although more of the Asians were in employment. The religious affiliations of the Asians was broadly similar to the religious affiliations of Asians traced in a much larger and more representative study conducted elsewhere for other reasons (Chapter One).
Whites claim to "know more" about drugs than do Asians. When checked, this proves to be the case. Asians, however, are slightly more likely to see drugs as "harmful". Yet, while Asians are more likely to classify cannabis and LSD as "addictive", they are less likely than whites to so-classify a range of other drugs, and less likely to see many drugs as "harmful" (Chapter Two).
Whites seem more sympathetic to drug use than do Asians, when this is measured in a number of different ways. Typifying this, whites are more likely to cite reasons such as "taking drugs is fun" but Asians more likely to cite "lack of parental guidance" to explain drug use. Asians are much more likely than whites to define British drug laws as too "lenient": whites much more likely than Asians to define them as too "strict" (Chapter Three).
Whites are more likely than Asians to know users of particular drugs (except, inexplicably, for users of glue and heroin). Whites were very much more likely than Asians to say that they would take each drug if offered it by a friend. Particularly when compared with surveys conducted elsewhere, quite high proportions of each group had actually taken most of the substances listed, although in all cases, the whites were far more likely to have done so than had the Asians (Chapter Four).
The fact that Asians are more likely to cite "moral" rather than practical reasons for drug use seems to be related to their lower exposure to drug use. The survey of Glaswegian drug agencies indicated that very few of their clients are from ethnic minority communities. Although the use of illegal drugs by Asian males seems to be less frequent than is the case for similarly aged white males, the use by Asian males is nevertheless significant. That they perceive additional barriers to help-seeking is a possible explanation of their comparatively low presentation to agencies, and a possibly useful starting point for future research (Chapter Five).
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