Epidemiology of substance use among forced migrants: a global systematic review

Added November 28, 2017

Citation: Horyniak D., Melo J.S., Farrell R.M., et al. Epidemiology of substance use among forced migrants: a global systematic review. PLoS one 11.7 (2016): e0159134.

Sixty-three studies were analyzed to identify the epidemiology of substance abuse among forced migrants globally.  While the findings were limited due to lack of data, the results suggest a greater need for interventions and research related to substance use.

Forced migrants may be at risk for substance abuse as a coping mechanism for traumatic experiences, comorbid mental health disorders, acculturation challenges or economic inequality. Seven relevant databases were searched in September 2015 to identify original peer-reviewed articles describing findings related to either alcohol or illicit drug use among forced migrants globally. The majority of research was conducted among refugees in high-income settings. The highest-quality prevalence estimates of hazardous/harmful alcohol use ranged from 17%-36% in camp settings and 4%-7% in community settings. Few studies collected validated measures of illicit drug use. The authors conclude that while further research is necessary, findings suggest that substance use interventions may be beneficial for forced migrants.

 

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the health of refugees and asylum seekers but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the health of refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of this summary alone.

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