Substance Use Among Highly Religious Youths: Racial Differences and Links to Parental Involvement and School Factors
Orr, W. A., Lawrence, S. A., Ashley, O. S., & Penne, M. A. (2005, December). Substance Use Among Highly Religious Youths: Racial Differences and Links to Parental Involvement and School Factors. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Past research has shown that black youths are less likely to use alcohol or illicit drugs than are white youths. Racial differences in levels of religiosity have been suggested as one explanation. This study examines the relationship between race, importance of religious beliefs, parental involvement, school factors, and past year alcohol or marijuana use, using a nationally representative sample of youths aged 12 to 17 (n=17,709) from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) public use file. Results showed that in 2002, 25.2 percent (2.2 million) of highly religious youths used alcohol during the past year compared with 40.0 percent of youths who were not highly religious. Similarly, 8.1 percent of highly religious youths (725,000) used marijuana during the past year compared with 20.3 percent of their peers. Blacks (45.9 percent) were more likely to be highly religious than whites (35.9 percent). Multivariate logistic regression analyses controlled for age and gender and indicated that importance of religious beliefs was less protective for black than white youths against both alcohol and marijuana use. Multivariate modeling using Sobel tests of mediation showed that parental involvement, letter grades, and school attachment mediated the relationship between importance of religious beliefs and substance use for both whites and blacks. Prevention programs administered by faith-based organizations may benefit from these findings by addressing racial differences in religious beliefs and substance use and drawing on parental involvement and school influences as important resources.