Dr. Avelardo Valdez is currently a professor at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston and Director of the Center for Drug and Social Policy Research. He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico, D.F.

His research focuses on drugs, violence, adolescent gangs, and sex workers in South Texas and the U.S./Mexico border. A primary focus of his research has been on the relationship between substance abuse and violence among high-risk groups. Publications include research among "hidden populations" such as youth gang members, injecting drug users and sex workers on the U.S./Mexico border. He has published in such journals as the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Journal of Drug Issues, Substance Abuse and Misuse, Drugs and Society, Contemporary Drug Problems, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, International Journal of Offender Therapy and the Journal of Border Health. He is a recipient of federal research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He has also been a long-time member of the American Sociological Association and active in the Society for the Study of Social Problems.


Research Interests

  • Epidemiology of Drug Use
  • Public Health, Crime and Deviance
  • Minority Groups
  • U.S./Mexico Relations


Valdez, A. (1993). Persistent Poverty, Crime, and Drugs: U.S.-Mexican Border Region. In J. Moore and R. Pinderhughes (Eds.), In the Barrios: Latinos and the Underclass Debate (pp. 173-94). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D., Curtis, R.L., Zenong, Y. (1995). Illegal Drug Use, Alcohol and Aggressive Crime among Mexican-American and White Male Arrestees in San Antonio. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 27(2), 135-143.   

Yin, Z., Valdez, A., Mata, A.G. and Kaplan, C.D. (1996). Developing a Field-Intensive Methodology for Generating a Randomized Sample for Gang Research. Free Inquiry-Special Issue: Gang, Drugs and Violence, 24(2), 195-204.

Valdez, A. and Sifaneck, S. (1997). Drug Tourists and Drug Policy on the Us-Mexican Border: An Ethnographic Investigation of the Acquisition of Prescription Drugs. Journal of Drug Issues, 27(4), 879-897.   

Codina, G.E., Kaplan, C.D., Yin, Z., Mata, A. G. and Valdez, A. (1997). Readiness for Treatment: Predictors of Drug Abuse Help-Seeking in Mexican American, African American and White San Antonio Arrestees. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 24(1), 17-24.   

Valdez, A., Yin, Z. and Kaplan, C.D. (1997). A Comparison of Alcohol, Drugs, and Aggressive Crime among Mexican-American, Black, and White Male Arrestees in Texas. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 23(2), 249-265.   

Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Kaplan, C.D. and Yin, Z. (1998). The Legal Importation of Prescription Drugs into the United States from Mexico: A Study of Customs Declaration Forms. Substance Use and Misuse, 33(12), 2485-97.   

Valdez, A. and Mata, A.G. (1999). Life Histories of Four Chicano Heroin Injecting Drug Users in Laredo. In M. O. Loustaunau and M. Sanchez-Bane (Eds.), Asi Es La Vida: Life, Death, and in-between on the Us-Mexico Border (pp. 1-32). Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Valdez, A. and Kaplan, C.D. (1999). Reducing Selection Bias in the Use of Focus Groups to Investigate Hidden Populations: The Case of Mexican American Gang Members from South Texas. Drugs and Society, 14(1/2), 209-24.   

Codina, E., Kaplan, C.D., Yin, Z., Valdez, A. and Mata, A.G. (1999). Estimating the Extent of Injecting Heroin Use in Laredo, Texas. Journal of Border Health, 4(1), 3-11.

Rios, J.M. and Valdez, A. (2000). The Relationship between Infrastructure, Utilities and the Incidence of Illness in the Border Colonias. Journal of Border Health, 5(2), 31-41.

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D. and Cepeda, A. (2000). The Process of Paradoxical Autonomy and Survival in the Heroin Careers of Mexican American Women. Contemporary Drug Problems, 27(Spring), 189-212.

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D. and Codina, E. (2000). Psychopathy among Mexican American Gang Members: A Comparative Study. International Journal Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 44(1), 46-58.   

Mata, A., Valdez, A., Alvarado, J., Cepeda, A., Cervantes, R., & Kaplan, C.D. (2002). Drug Related Violence Among Mexican American Youth in Laredo, Texas: Preliminary Findings. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 30(1), 25-38.

Cepeda, A. and Valdez, A. (2003). Risk Behaviors among Young Mexican American Gang-Associated Females. Journal of Adolescent Research, 18(1), 90-106.   

Valdez, A. (2003).Toward a Typology of Contemporary Mexican American Youth Gangs. In L. Kontos, D. Brotherton and L. Barrios (Eds.), Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives (pp. 12-40). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Cepeda, A. and Valdez, A. (2004). Sex Work, High Risk Sexual Behavior and Injecting Drug Use on the U.S.- Mexico Border: Nuevo Laredo. Journal of Border Health, 7(1), 84-94.

Petersen, R. and Valdez, A. (2004). Intimate Partner Violence among Mexican American Adolescent Females. Journal of Ethnicity and Criminal Justice, 2(1/2), 67-89.

Valdez, A. and Sifaneck, S.J. (2004). "Getting High and Getting by": Dimensions of Drug Selling Behaviors among American Mexican Gang Members in South Texas. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 41(1), 82-105.   

Valdez, A. and Flores, R. (2005). A Situational Analysis of Dating Violence Among Mexican American Females Associated with Street Gangs. Social Problems, 38(2), 95-114.

Petersen, R. and Valdez, A. (2005). Based Methods in Hidden Populations to Generate a Randomized Community Sample of Gang Affiliated Adolescents. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 3(2),151-167.   

Valdez, A. (2005). Mexican American Youth and Adult Prison Gangs in a Changing Heroin Market. Journal of Drug Issues, 35(4), 842-867.   

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D., Cepeda, A. and Mata, A.G. (2005). Precocious Transitions and Substance Use Patterns among Mexican American Gang Members: A Correlation Analysis. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 33(1), 51-62.

Valdez, A. (2005). Mexican American Youth and Adult Prison Gangs in a Changing Heroin Market. Journal of Drug Issues, 35(4), 842-867.   

Valdez, A., Mikow, J. and Cepeda, A. (2006). The Role of Stress, Family Coping, Ethnic Identity and Mother-Daughter Relationships on Substance Use among Gang Affiliated Hispanic Females. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 6 (4), 31-54.   

Cervantes, R., Duenas, N., Valdez, A. and Kaplan, C. (2006). Measuring Violence Risk and Outcomes among Mexican American Adolescent Females. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21 (1), 24-41.  PMID: 16399922.   

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D. and Cepeda, A. (2006). The Drugs-Violence Nexus Among Mexican-American Gang Members. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 38(2), 109-121.  PMID: 16903450.    

Warner, L.A., Valdez, A., Vega, W.A., de la Rosa, M., Turner, R.J. and Canino, G. (2006). Hispanic drug abuse in an evolving cultural context: An agenda for research. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, Supplement, 84(s1), S8-S16.  PMID: 16750335.   

Valdez, A, & Kaplan, C.D. (2007). Conditions That Increase Drug Market Involvement: The Invitational Edge and The Case Of Mexicans In South Texas. Journal of Drug Issues, 37(4), 893-917.   

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D. & Curtis, R.L. (2007). Aggressive Crime, Alcohol And Drug Use And Concentrated Poverty In 24 U.S. Urban Areas. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Use, 33(4), 595-603. PMID: 17668345.   

Valdez, A., Neaigus, A., Cepeda, A. (2007).Potential Risk Factors for Transitioning to Injecting among Mexican American Non-Injecting Heroin Users. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 6(2), 49-73.  PMID: 18192204.   

Valdez, A. (2007). Machismo. Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, 2(G-R), 271-274.

Valdez, A., Neaigus, A. & Kaplan, C.D. (2008). The Influence Of Family And Peer Risk Networks On Drug Use Practices And Other Risks Among Mexican American Non-Injecting Heroin Users. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 37(1), 79-107.  PMID: 19337564.   

Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Neaigus, A. & Russell, A. (2008). Heroin Transition Risk among Daily and Non-Daily Marijuana Users who are Non-Injectors of Heroin. International Journal of Drug Policy, 19(1), 442-449.  PMID: 19038723.   

Valdez, A., & Cepeda, A. (2008). The Relationship of Ecological Containment and Heroin Practices. In Y. Thomas, D. Richardson, & I. Cheung (Eds), Geography and Drug Addiction (159-173). Springer Press.   

Hazen, J. M., Kaplan, C.D., Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Lund, S., & Millard, A. (2008). Risk and resilience: Understanding the potential for violence. In E.G. Berman, K. Krause, E. LeBrun & G. McDonald (Eds.), Small Arms Survey 2008: Risk and Resilience (pp. 244-273). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   

Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., & Kaplan, C. (2009). Homicidal Events among Mexican American Street Gangs: A Situational Analysis. Homicide Studies 13(3), 288-306.   

Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Negi, N., & Kaplan, C. (2009). Fumando La Piedra: Emerging Patterns of Crack Use among Latino Immigrant Day Laborers in New Orleans. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.  DOI: 10.1007/s10903-009-9300-5. PMID: 19924538.   

Cepeda, A., Valdez, A., Kaplan, C.D., & Hill, L. (2009). Patterns of substance use among Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Houston, Texas. Disasters: The Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy and Management.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2009.01136.x. PMID: 19863564.   

Cepeda, A., St. Onge, J.M., Kaplan, C., & Valdez, A. (2010). The Association Between Disaster-Related Experiences and Mental Health Outcomes Among Drug Using African American Hurricane Katrina Evacuees. Community Mental Health Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10597-009-9286-4. PMID: 20091228.   

Cepeda, A., & Valdez, A. (In Press). Ethnographic Strategies in the Tracking and Retention of Street Recruited Community-Based Samples of Substance Using Hidden Populations in Longitudinal Studies. Journal of Substance Use and Misuse.   

Valdez, A. and Sifaneck, S. (Eds.) (In Press). Special Issue: Qualitative Methodological Issues in Drug Research. Journal of Substance Use and Misuse.