Experience of drug use and treatment services amongst minority ethnic groups

The webinar discussed the findings of the latest NatCen research that revealed the experiences of drug use among people from minority ethnic groups.
  • Event time:
    6th February 2024 12:30 – 14:00
  • Format:

After the second volume of the Government commissioned independent review of drugs, it was highlighted that there was a need for research into what worked in reducing problems associated with substance use, and into the improvement of prevention, treatment, and recovery. Within this, a large evidence gap was identified with those from minority ethnic communities. In 2023, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee reported that those from minority ethnic communities faced additional barriers in gaining support or treatment for drug use, while also being negatively impacted by legislation.

To address this, the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and RSM UK delivered an important project and published its findings under the auspices of the Public Health Policy Research Unit, commissioned and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme. The aim was to explore the following in relation to non-opiate and cannabis drug use:

- Variation in the frequency and type of drug use across different ethnic groups;
- Drivers of drug use amongst minority ethnic communities;
- Barriers and facilitators to support and treatment.

The project involved several work-strands and multiple methods to develop a robust understanding of the issue, including a review of pre-existing research, academic papers, and published reports; analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey (APMS) and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW); in-depth qualitative interviews with professional stakeholders and people from minority ethnic communities with experience of drug use.


  • Emily Sawdon
    Research Director National Centre for Social Research
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    Emily is a Research Director in the Health Policy team. Since joining NatCen in 2019, she has managed studies exploring a wide range of topics across health and social care. Key areas of focus include wellbeing, health behaviours (e.g. drug use and gambling) and health inequalities. Emily’s methodological expertise includes qualitative methods (depth interviews, focus groups and diary studies) and evidence reviews. She is also a  member of the NatCen Research Ethics Committee. Prior to joining NatCen, Emily worked for a number of years in the healthcare sector, in legal, policy and strategic roles. She holds an MSc in International Social and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

  • Crescenzo Pinto
    Senior Researcher National Centre for Social Research
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    Crescenzo is currently working as a Senior Researcher in the Health Policy Team, with responsibility for the day-to-day management of multiple concurrent projects. Crescenzo supports and leads the development of research tools and data collection instruments. He has a leading role in the daily management of fieldwork and in the analysis of data. He is also responsible for the delivery of report and proposal sections, and he has currently co-authored several reports and proposals.

    In his role as a Senior Researcher, as well as in previous roles, Crescenzo conducted several qualitative interviews with potentially vulnerable participants (such as people who gamble, people who use drugs, carers, patients, and bereaved people) and on a number of sensitive subjects (including, for example, gambling, drug abuse, bereavement and grief, pain, mental health, loneliness, and cancer). More recently, Crescenzo has worked on a qualitative study on the consequences of Covid-19 on grief and bereavement, an evaluation of the effects of the Credit Card Ban for gambling in Great Britain (which also included interviews with people who gamble and those affected by others’ gambling behaviours), and a mixed-methods study on drug use in minority ethnic groups for which he conducted several in-depth interviews.

  • Phoebe Weston-Stanley
    Researcher National Centre for Social Research
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    Since joining the Health and Social Care team in March 2021, Phoebe has worked on a number of projects using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Phoebe has a BA(Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Warwick and an MSc with Distinction in Gender from the London School of Economics. Her Master's dissertation explored the role of hegemonic masculinity in preventing men from making climate-positive lifestyle choices.


  • Priya Khambhaita
    RSM Social Policy Director
    Dr Priya Khambhaita is a NatCen Associate and RSM Social Policy Director. She has 15+ years of experience in applied policy and academic research and evaluation. Priya has successfully delivered several projects for the Department for Health and Social Care and was Project Director for this study on non-opiates and barriers to treatment. She has also conducted research on gambling and treatment barriers and smoking patterns across England and Scotland. Priya has been an expert commentator for BBC London, Awaaz Community Radio, and GB News TV.