In this article, socio-economic and cultural factors which heighten vulnerability to involvement with illicit drugs and disproportionately impact upon ethnic minority communities are described. The concepts and themes derived from a review of international literature (mostly from the USA and other English-speaking nations) on factors associated with vulnerability to illicit drug use in ethnic minority communities worldwide were compared with the outcomes of our own investigation into the involvement of ethnic communities in Victoria, Australia with illicit drugs. Several factors which increase vulnerability to illicit drug use were identified in the literature review; our research showed that the same determinants are at work among ethnic minority communities in Victoria. These factors are high unemployment, poor proficiency in English, poor access to education and lower educational attainment, inter-generational conflict, acculturation issues and peer pressure. These factors can be distilled into a more general underlying problem, which is that ethnic minority communities are socially and economically disadvantaged. Cultural and socio-economic handicaps heighten ethnic communities' vulnerability to involvement with the illicit drug market and use of illicit drugs, and that vulnerability is compounded by poor knowledge of drug treatment services and difficulties in gaining access to them.

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