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J Stud Alcohol. 1994 Jul;55(4):420-6.

Culture, stress and substance use in Cambodian refugee women.

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University of Connecticut, School of Nursing, Storrs 06269.


Initial data were generated on the use of alcohol and other drugs by Cambodian refugee women and their families (N = 120) in two sites: Massachusetts and California. Information on frequency and situations surrounding use, and culturally specific use, was elicited. In those families where alcohol was perceived as a problem, the majority of problem drinkers were husbands. About 45% of the East Coast women, however, said they used alcohol for nervousness, stress, headaches, insomnia and pain. In addition, about 15% of the East Coast women reported that a family member used street drugs and was having dependency problems. While use of alcohol or street drugs was not perceived as problematic on the West Coast, over 58% reported using prescription drugs for self-treatment of illnesses other than those targeted by the prescription. When prescription drugs were misused by women, it was most frequently to get an altered state, or "street drug effect". Numerous stressors influence Cambodian women during the pressures of acculturation to the U.S. lifestyle. Some may turn to self-medication in the form of alcohol, prescription sleeping pills, or other drugs. A better understanding of how and why these women make coping choices is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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