Substance Use Among Refugee and Conflict-Affected Children and Adolescents

  • M. Claire GreeneEmail author
  • Jeremy C. Kane


Though substance use is common in displaced populations, the majority of existing research is among adults. This is a limitation because morbidity for substance use increases during adolescence, and an earlier age of onset of alcohol and drug abuse is associated with more severe substance use outcomes later in life. Despite the elevated risk of substance use and related consequences for children (0–18 years) and, more specifically, adolescents (10–19 years), most studies and prevention or treatment interventions in refugees have been restricted to adults. This chapter will review research on alcohol and other drug use among refugee children and adolescents resettled in low-, middle-, or high-income countries. Given the limited research in this population, we will also review relevant studies conducted among conflict-affected, disaster-affected, and immigrant children and adolescents and discuss how this information may be applicable to refugee children. We will conduct a scoping review of the academic and unpublished epidemiologic research to characterize the patterns and burden of substance use in refugee children and adolescents, risk and protective factors, and interventions that have been tested in refugee and comparable child and adolescent populations. We will present available evidence regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of substance abuse treatment and prevention strategies and discuss the implications of these findings for future research and practice.


Alcohol Substance Drug Substance use disorder Alcohol use disorder Intervention Refugee Children Adolescent 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University/New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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