Disconcerting levels of alcohol use among Venezuelan immigrant adolescents in the United States

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Trenette C. Goings, Sehun Oh, Flavio Marsiglia, Mariana Cohen, Rachel John, Patricia Andrade, Seth Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is estimated that more than 4 million Venezuelans have left their country as a direct result of their nation's widespread social and economic challenges. Although recent research identifies Venezuela as one of the nations with the highest rates of harmful alcohol consumption in the Americas, no research has been conducted on alcohol use among Venezuelan youth in diaspora. Methods: Data was collected between November 2018 and June 2019 from 373 Venezuelan immigrant youth ages 12–17 in the United States. The prevalence of past-month and lifetime alcohol use among Venezuelan youth is compared to that of other Hispanic and immigrant youth from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and the Construyendo Oportunidades Para Adolecentes Latinos (COPAL) study using independent sample t tests. Results: The prevalence of past-month and lifetime alcohol use was significantly higher among Venezuelan immigrant youth (15% and 52%, respectively) compared to other Hispanic (9% and 28%) and immigrant (4.5% and 28%) youth in the NSDUH, and youth ages 14–17 in the COPAL study (4.0% and 22%). Among Venezuelan youth reporting alcohol use initiation, 1.5% of youth ages 12–14 and 19% ages 15–17 report lifetime alcohol intoxication. Discussion: Although preliminary, results indicate that a disconcerting proportion of Venezuelan crisis migrant youth in the US report lifetime alcohol initiation and past-month use. These findings suggest the importance of future research to examine the prevalence and correlates of alcohol use in this population using recruitment and sampling methods that will allow for population-level estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106269
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May

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 content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA or the NIH. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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