The influence of spirituality on substance use of college students

J Drug Educ. 2001;31(4):343-51. doi: 10.2190/HEPQ-CR08-MGYF-YYLW.


Objectives: The issue of substance use and the problems resulting from that use has become a major concern in the United States. The past decade has seen several new trends in substance use by college students and an increase in the effort to try and determine factors that may ameliorate the problem. Spirituality is one possible factor that may have some role in the phenomenon. Some research has been conducted on the relationship of spirituality to substance use but the results are mostly descriptive and concerned with religiosity rather than spirituality. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between a student's spiritual and religious beliefs and the impact of those beliefs on the decision to use substances.

Method: A sample of 337 university students was surveyed using the CORE Alcohol and Drug Survey and several supplemental questions.

Results: In general, spirituality had a moderate buffering effect upon the decision to use alcohol and marijuana. This general protective effect exists for both alcohol use and binge drinking but dissipated as the students reached upper-class levels.

Conclusion: Spirituality may play a significant role in the decision of college students to use substances. Further research should focus on this important factor. Also, implementation of spiritual aspects into university prevention and treatment programs may help boost efficacy rates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Spirituality*
  • Students / classification
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Universities*