The influence of family religiosity on adolescent substance use according to religious preference

Ray M. Merrill1, Jeffrey A. Folsom1, Susan S. Christopherson1
1Brigham Young University, United States
Cite this article:  Merrill, R. M., Folsom, J. A., & Christopherson, S. S. (2005). The influence of family religiosity on adolescent substance use according to religious preference. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 33(8), 821-836.

Volume 33 Issue 8 | e1439 | Published: December 2005 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2005.33.8.821

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In this research we aimed to identify whether or not family religiosity is protective against adolescent substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs) according to selected religious preferences. A cross-sectional survey of students aged 17-35 years in college undergraduate general education classes at 3 large schools in Utah, May-July, 2003 revealed that the highest use of tobacco smoking and marijuana or other illicit drug use was among those with no religious preference. Catholics had the highest level of alcohol drinking during adolescence. The lowest use of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs was among Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons). Family church attendance and religiosity among parents during the participants’ adolescent years were both significantly protective against substance use in LDS but not among those of other religions or in those with no religious preference. LDS were most likely to agree that they chose to abstain or quit using tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs during their adolescent years because such behavior was inconsistent with their religious beliefs. LDS were also more likely to agree that current substance use was inconsistent with their religion, thus family weekly church attendance and parental religiosity during the participants’ adolescent years were associated with lower substance use among LDS.

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