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Religious Correlates Of Teenage Drug Use

Benjamin F. McLuckie, Margaret Zahn, Robert A. Wilson

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This paper analyzes the relationship of religiosity and patterns of drug use among students in the seventh through the twelfth grades. Data were collected in a statewide questionnaire survey of more than 30,000 students. Hypotheses regarding the constraining influence of religion on drug use patterns received mixed support. On the one hand religiosity as measured by affiliation and by parochial school attendance did not uniformly constrain drug use. For example, while Catholics and Protestants were relatively low in current use, Jewish teenagers had the highest rate with nonaffiliates the second highest. Extent of involvement in religion (as measured by frequency of attendance), on the other hand, did seem constraining since nonattenders were more than twice as likely to be drug users as were regular weekly attenders. Data on these teenagers' evaluation of drug information sources is also presented. Here it was found that drug users tend to trust traditional sources of Information less than do nonusers and trust those with personal drug experience more than do nonusers. All students, however, whether drug users or not, tended to value information from those presumed to have technical knowledge about drugs, i.e., physicians and medical school professors. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are also explored.