A new study of nearly 20,000 teens conducted by researchers from Brigham Young University found that those who are frequent churchgoers and who consider religion as highly important were half as likely to use marijuana or succumb to peer pressure to smoke and drink, CTV reported Oct. 18.
While noting that the findings may seem obvious, study author Stephen Bahr said that “research and expert opinion on this issue have not been consistent.”
The researchers suggested that teens' degree of participation in their faith helped determine the likelihood of drug use. “Previously, it was thought that if someone grew up in a religious community and went to church … the community's religious strength would make a difference,” Bahr said. Rather, “Individual religiosity is what makes the difference,” he said.
The study also found that the findings did not apply to drugs like cocaine and heroin. Most teens receive stronger societal messages discouraging hard drug use than they do for drinking, smoking and marijuana use, which are more strongly opposed by religious groups, researchers said.
The study appeared in the Journal of Drug Issues (Vol. 38, No. 3).