The Study and Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse Among Migrants: Toward a Transnational Theory of Cultural Stress

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Seth J Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Prior research suggests that international migrants, taken together, experience alcohol and other drug (AOD)-related problems at lower rates than do non-migrants. However, many migrants do, in fact, misuse AOD, with elevated levels of risk observed among those who migrate during childhood and those who experience adverse/stressful events. In our prior work, we have advanced cultural stress theory, which is concerned with the ways in which adverse migration-related experiences can create disruptions in family functioning and, in turn, increase risk for adverse behavioral and mental health outcomes, including AOD misuse. In this article, we provide an overview of prior research on AOD misuse among immigrants and highlight critical gaps in research and theory. In turn, we present a framework for AOD misuse research and prevention that (1) considers the importance of pre-migration, transit-related, and post-migration stressors; (2) prioritizes cross-national and multisite comparative designs; and (3) highlights transnational dynamics in migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Cultural stress
  • Immigrants
  • Migration
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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