Cultural Stress and Substance Use Risk among Venezuelan Migrant Youth in the United States

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Seth J. Schwartz, Mariana Cohen, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Michael G. Vaughn, Mariana Sanchez, José Rodriguez, Millan AbiNader, Rachel John, Kesia Oliveros, Patricia Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Since 2015, more than four million Venezuelans have fled their once prosperous nation, prompting an ever-intensifying refugee crisis. Recent research with Venezuelan parents suggests that many are exposed to elevated migration-related stress, experience behavioral health problems, and express profound concern for their children’s post-migration wellbeing. We examine the relationships between stress, family functioning, and substance use risk with a cultural stress theoretical lens. Methods: Survey data were collected between November 2018 and June 2019 from 402 recently-arrived Venezuelan immigrant youth ages 10–17. Outcomes include perceived discrimination, negative context of reception, family support/communication, and substance use intentions and normative beliefs. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between variables. Results: Structural equation modeling results indicated that negative context of reception was associated with permissive substance use norms (via family communication; B = 0.070, p <.01) and intentions to use (via family support; B = 0.051, p <.01). Discrimination was not mediated by family functioning, rather it exerted a direct effect on substance use norms (β = 0.20, p <.01) and intentions (β = 0.33, p <.001). Discussion: We see clear evidence that negative context of reception and discrimination are related to substance use risk, both directly (in the case of discrimination) and indirectly (in the case of negative context of reception). Given the manifold stressors faced by Venezuelan immigrants both prior to migration and in the process of resettling in the US, it is critical that practitioners and policymakers support this rapidly-growing population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2175-2183
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume55
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Immigrants
  • Venezuela
  • adolescents
  • asylum seekers
  • discrimination
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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