Cultural Factors in Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Immigrant Youth in Western Australia: A Qualitative Investigation

Justine Dandy, Caroline Ng Tseung-Wong, Amanda George, Byron L. Zamboanga, Vilma Palacios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Our aim was to identify the influence of heritage cultural factors and mainstream Australian cultural norms on young culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) immigrants’ alcohol and other drug (AOD) use attitudes, motives for use, and behaviors. Method: We conducted nine focus groups with 55 youth (aged 16–30; 22 female, 33 male). Participants were from diverse cultural backgrounds including India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Hazara Afghanistan, Burma (Chin and Karen), Malaysia, Singapore, and China. They were first- (80%) and second-generation immigrants to Australia. Results: We constructed three overarching themes: bicultural conflict, freedom versus constraints, and the intersection of gender and culture. Although there were diverse responses, there was widespread recognition of perceived Australian norms around AOD use, particularly drinking alcohol. Our participants reported conformity motives that included fitting in with mainstream Australian culture. Drinking alcohol was also seen as a means for social bonding between immigrant and mainstream youth. Acculturation challenges of reconciling their heritage cultural identity with Australian identity contributed to problematic AOD use.
Conclusions: Further research into the prevalence and predictors of AOD-related harm among CaLD youth in Australia is needed to tailor interventions that draw upon immigrant communities’ resilience and enhance positive adaptation outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberAdvance online publication
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2024

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