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Trauma and Substance Abuse in Refugees

            For decades, large numbers of individuals have been prompted to move to the United States due to threatening or emergency circumstances in their countries of origin. Some of these events have induced vulnerability due to civil wars, political transformations, riots, "ethnic cleansing" campaigns, rape and female mutilations, and violence of all kinds. Most refugee children have lost a parent to imprisonment or death. Refugees are often forced to flee suddenly and usually do not have the opportunity to make preparations to leave their country or to arrive in a new one. The Refugee Act of 1980 defines a refugee as a person who cannot return home because of a "well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion" who is not able to seek or receive protection from their country of origin (www.unhcr.org 2014). There are currently 15.2 million refugees worldwide and 46% are children under the age of 18. The struggles of refugee life often lead to mental health disorders and substance abuse. Traumatic experiences characterize the expulsion, journey, and arrival of a great many refugees with consequent elevation in post-traumatic stress and drug use (Mills, 2012). I want to address the role that trauma plays, whether or not there is effective treatment for refugees who suffer from mental disorders and substance abuse, and if early treatment of PTSD (and other disorders) will lead to less substance abuse in refugee populations later in life. .
             Psychological Issues for Refugees .
             Besides the suffering accompanying refugee life, refugees also experience unparalleled psychological distress. The effects of early traumatizing experiences depend of characteristics both of the individual and of the social context before and after the atrocities (Montgomery, 2010). Suspended between a horrifying past and an uncertain future, victims of political violence have very little control over their destiny (Hussain & Bhushan, 2009).

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