Research & Resources

Religious Affiliation Protects Against Alcohol/Substance Use Initiation: A Prospective Study Among Healthy Adolescents

In this study, researchers prospectively evaluated effects of religious affiliation on initiation of alcohol and other substance use in a sample of 81 psychiatrically healthy 13- to 14-year-olds from New England over a 3-year period (November 2015–January 2019). Researchers also evaluated known risk factors including anxiety, depression, and impulsivity; family history of mental illness and alcohol/other substance misuse; and volume of brain regions implicated in adolescent alcohol/other substance misuse (assessed by magnetic resonance imaging). The study results demonstrated that religiously affiliated adolescents were significantly less likely to initiate the use of alcohol and other substances. The addition of family history of alcohol/other substance misuse to the model increased the predictive value of religious affiliation. These findings suggest that religious affiliation protects against initiation of alcohol and other substance use during early adolescence, particularly in individuals with elevated risk.

This paper, “Religious affiliation protects against alcohol/substance use initiation: A prospective study among healthy adolescents,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the Journal of adolescence.

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