Influences of Religious Affiliation and Religious Beliefs on Substance Use Among Young Adults
Frank Biafora, Associate Dean and Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Research on protective factors for drug and alcohol use often lends itself to discussions of religion/spirituality. We may like to believe that religious affiliation and/or personal religious beliefs attenuate drug and alcohol use, but do they really? This paper explores these questions using survey data from a sample of 1,803 survey respondents ranging in age from 18-22. The findings suggest lower use among Conservative Protestants and higher use among Jews. Persons with no formal religious affiliation were as likely to use alcohol and marijuana as were members of 3 of 4 religious organizations (Catholics and Liberal Protestants and Jews; but not Conservative Protestants). Religious beliefs/practices were related to use in the hypothesized direction, but were not nearly as important as other socio-demographic factors in comparative statistical models. The discussion centers on the flexible saliency of religious messages as proscriptions for drug and alcohol use among young adults.