Religiosity and Exposure to Users in Explaining Illicit Drug Use among Emerging Adults

Joseph J. Palamar, Mathew V. Kiang, Perry N. Halkitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Religiosity is a protective factor against illicit drug use, but further investigation is needed to delineate which components of religiosity are protective against use. A racially diverse sample (N = 962) was surveyed about religiosity, exposure to users, and recent use of marijuana, powder cocaine, ecstasy, and nonmedical use of opioids and amphetamine. Results suggest that identifying as Agnostic increased odds of use for each of the five drugs; however, this effect disappeared when controlling for religious importance and attendance. High levels of religious attendance were protective against recent use of marijuana and cocaine, but protective effects diminished when controlling for exposure to users, which was a robust predictor of use of every drug. Religion is a protective mechanism against drug use, but this effect may diminish in light of exposure to users. Alternative preventative methods need to be directed toward individuals who are not religious or are highly exposed to users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-674
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Drug exposure
  • Drug use
  • Drug use prevention
  • Emerging adults
  • Religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Religious studies


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