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

4 Citations (Scopus)


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
Pages (from-to)2175-2183
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R25 DA030310 (PI: James Anthony). The first author also received support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) via K01 AA026645. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA, NIAAA, or the NIH.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural Stress and Substance Use Risk among Venezuelan Migrant Youth in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this