Religion may affect drug use and recovery in people struggling with addiction. A study at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland believes there is a correlation between religious beliefs and drug addiction and use. The study is led by Gerhard Gmel, who suggests that those who are religious consume fewer addictive substances than those with agnostic or atheist beliefs, or even those who are not practicing religion regularly.
In the study, there were 5,000 young men given questionnaires to complete. The young men were then split into five separate groups organized by religious beliefs. Group one was religious and believed in a god, attending church regularly. The second group believed in a higher power, but they had no specific religious practice or were inactive. Group three was unsure, and they did not know whether or not a god existed. Group four was agnostic, believing that you cannot know whether or not a god exists. The last group, group five, was atheist. They do not believe there is a god. The results showed that each group had different views involving substance abuse and addiction, in addition to having different methods on how to deal with addiction.
Participants in the religious group answered the questionnaire with 30% of the young men smoking a cigarette daily. About 20% smoked pot more than once a week. Out of these young men, 1% took ecstasy or cocaine in the past year. The atheist group produced slightly different results. 51% of the men in the atheist group smoked a cigarette a day. Those who smoked pot more than once a week were about 36%. The number of young men who took ecstasy in the past year was 6%, and the amount that took cocaine was 5%. The groups with spiritual, unsure, or agnostic religious views fell in between the two extremes.
However, the results of the study may have been slightly skewed. The sample sizes of the groups were vastly different. About 543 young men were in the religious group, and about 1,650 young men were part of the atheist study group. Whether or not religion is correlated to initial drug use and addiction, belief in a higher power is considered to definitely strengthen recovery and rehabilitation, in addition to decreasing risk of relapse.
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