Refugees and Substance Use in the Karen Community

The experience of trauma in their native country is all too common among immigrants and refugees who are in the United States–and Minnesota. Many develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many have mental health symptoms that stem from the difficulties with resettlement. Also, many refugees and immigrants have problems with alcohol and may be diagnosed with a substance use disorder, as defined by the DSM and Minnesota Regulations. Yet refugees and immigrants in the United States bring with them culturally grounded beliefs and experiences with alcohol that impact their definitions of problematic alcohol or drug use and their success with Western treatment models. This Webinar explores how varied immigrant and refugee communities understand substance use and trauma. The role of the helper is also explored, with implications for adjusting our practice to better align with familiar cultural practices of different groups.

Jennifer Simmelink, PhD

Jennifer Simmelink, PhD

Fellow in the School of Social Work, University of Minnesota