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Religious People Do Less with Drugs

Update Date: Oct 03, 2013 12:32 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers examined the role of belief and religion in relation to substance abuse. The researchers from Switzerland compared the frequency of drug usage between believers and atheists and discovered that believers were less likely to try cigarettes, pot or ecstasy pills. Based from the findings, the team believes that belief could act as a preventative measure against drug use and misuse.

For this study, the research team headed by Gerhard Gmel from Lausanne University Hospital interviewed men from army recruitment centers based in Lausanne, Windisch and Mels in Switzerland. The men were all around 20-years-old and were interviewed between August 2010 and November 2011. The team gathered a total of 5,387 questionnaires that helped the researchers group the men into five groups, which were religious, spiritual, unsure, agnostic and atheist.

Based from these categories, the researchers reported that of the 543 men who identified themselves as religious, meaning that they believed in God and attended church, 30 percent of them smoked cigarettes on a daily basis. 20 percent of them had smoked pot more than once per week and less than one percent had tried ecstasy or cocaine within the past year. These rates appeared very low when compared to the group of atheist men. In that group of 1,650 men, 51 percent smoked cigarettes every day and 36 percent smoked pot more than once a week. Six percent of them had taken ecstasy pills and five percent had done cocaine within the past year. The researchers reported that the other three groups had percentages that were in between these two extremes. 

The researchers concluded that having belief could help deter people from using and abusing drugs. These findings could help with future programs designed to prevent children and young adults from using drugs. The study was published in Substance Use & Misuse.

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