Association between Religious Beliefs and Drugs of Choice in a Swiss Male Sample
Background: It has been shown that religious beliefs and affiliations might be a protective factor for trying or using drugs.
Objectives: This study focuses on whether the choice to try a specific drug is also influenced by religion. The data were collected in the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF), a longitudinal study designed to assess substance use patterns and their related consequences in young Swiss men.
MethodsL: Between August 2010 and November 2011, 5990 males between 17.9 and 31.4 years old filed a questionnaire about their socio-professional and family background, their drugs use, and their religious affiliation and beliefs.
Results: Beliefs distribution shows a majority of non believers (58.3%) compared to believers with or without religious practices. Alcohol was reported to be chosen by almost the whole sample (90.4%), followed by cannabis (47.7%) tobacco (39.6%) and for the other substances the prevalence ranged from 9.4% for hallucinogens to 1.1% for heroin use. Alcohol as the drug of choice increased the risk to belong to the Christian community whereas it decreased the risk to belong to the Islamic and other religious community compared to no religious affiliation. Cigarette smoking increased the risk to belong to the Islamic community. Cannabis and other drugs use decreased the risk to belong to the Christian and Muslim community.
Conclusion: Drugs of choice, independently from religious affiliation and strength of belief, are mainly driven by the local social norms, but being religious and practicing has the highest protective factor for choosing any drugs.