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Religious beliefs influence drug-taking behavior of people: Study

05-19 | By CSAA Team

Religious beliefs influence drug-taking behavior of people: Study

A closer look at the lives of drug offenders often forces one to ponder why some people put their lives at risk by abusing drugs in spite of knowing the harmful effects. As religion often plays an important role in the behavior and lifestyle of people, spirituality too has been found to play a significant role in propagating or curbing the consumption of psychoactive substances.

Alabama most religious, Vermont least religious state

To see if drug abuse is influenced by strong religious underpinnings, a team of researchers examined the data from two nationally acclaimed surveys that focused on understanding whether religious beliefs, or their lack impact drug-taking habits.

DrugAbuse.com accessed the data from the Religious Landscape Study carried out by the Pew Research Center in 2014 to establish a link between religiosity and the number of drug abuse cases encompassing all the 50 American states.

In terms of faith and adherence to religious principles, Alabama ranked first with an estimated 77 percent believers, while Mississippi was the close second with nearly 74 percent of its population sticking to religious beliefs and practices. In contrast, Vermont and Massachusetts were found to be the least religious states, with approximately 32 percent and 33 percent believers respectively.

A drug use map was also prepared with the help of 2014 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) acquired through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

It was observed that Vermont ranked third in the drug abuse map with 20 percent drug use cases, while Massachusetts, with 17 percent drug abuse cases, was placed at number nine. Apparently, Alabama was at a much lower on the list with only 10 percent drug users, while Mississippi took the last position with an estimated 9 percent cases of reported drug offense.

The data was compiled under “Drugs and Devotion: Comparing Substance Abuse by Believers and Nonbelievers” to see the levels and variations of dedication and belief associated with religious doctrines and simultaneously determine its effect on drug use.

Non-religious people take more alcohol and illicit drugs than religious ones

The researchers observed that an estimated 1.2 percent of non-religious participants had used lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) compared to a meager 0.1 percent of the religious ones. Also, non-religious people took to alcohol more frequently, with 77.4 percent, than their religious counterparts, at 59.8 percent. The same inverse correlation was observed in case of 36.2 percent of non-religious people as against only 19 percent of religious people smoking cigarettes.

Nearly, 16.2 percent of the religious participants admitted to have felt the peer pressure to use marijuana, as compared with 26.6 percent of non-religious participants.

Commenting on the findings, Greg Jao, director of campus engagement, vice-president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, told the Washington Times, “For me as a Christian, part of what my faith in Jesus does is it calls me to face reality ruthlessly in my own life and in the world around me,” adding, “And I think Christianity challenges you to actually experience God in the quotidian, day-to-day experience of life. So my need for an altered, super high is quite low because, in fact, while I may not always be happy, there’s a deep experience of regular joy.”

However, the survey did not take into account the existence of other factors influencing use and choice of drugs, nor could it point out the exact cause-and-effect relationship between deep religious faith and drug addiction.

Road to recovery

Religion commitment can act as a protective factor, helping young people to decide whether or not to indulge in drug use and abuse. While belief in religion and fear of God do make people think of possible consequences before getting involved in negative activities, the fact that religious faith influences drug dependence needs to be explored in detail.

If you or your loved one is grappling with addiction, you may get in touch with the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors to know about various substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online to know about the available inpatient substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado.


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