Religious Beliefs and Behaviors as Predictors of Substance Use Among College Students

Hayley A. Cole, Hannah B. Prassel, Peggy S. Keller, Charles R. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The study examined the influence of differing combinations of religious beliefs and religious behaviors on underage alcohol and drug use in college students. Religious beliefs functioned as a protective factor against substance use only when accompanied by religious behaviors. College students with stronger religious beliefs but discordant religious behaviors reported significantly higher rates of substance use than their peers with strong religious beliefs and frequent religious behaviors, and reported among the highest rates of substance use, similar to those of nonreligious students. Tests of mediated moderation indicated that perceptions of availability of alcohol, descriptive drinking norms, and affect experienced during alcohol consumption appear to be important factors in explaining why this group may be at a heightened risk for underage alcohol use. This study emphasizes the need for researchers to differentiate between religious beliefs and religious behaviors when investigating the impact of religiosity on substance use in undergraduate students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association


  • College students
  • Religiosity
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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