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Strong Faith Steers Kids Away From Drugs

Religion provides buffer against life hardships, study finds

FRIDAY, April 4, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Teenagers who consider religion to be an important part of their lives are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs.

That's the claim of a study in the March issue of the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Adolescent belief in religion was especially important when they were facing life hardships, says the Albert Einstein College of Medicine study of 1,182 black, Hispanic and white adolescents.

The teens were surveyed on four different occasions from 7th grade to 10th grade to track their perception of religion and their use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.

The study found adolescents who regarded religion as a meaningful part of their life and as a way to help them cope with problems were half as likely to use drugs than adolescents who said religion wasn't important to them.

That held most true when the religious adolescents were facing hardships such as being sick or having an unemployed parent.

The researchers refer to this as the "buffering effect." That's the idea that religion provides a buffer against difficult circumstances by providing meaning and purpose in life.

Being involved with religion may also provide adolescents with healthy social networks, the researchers add.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about drug abuse.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, March 30, 2003
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