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Religion as a protective factor against drug use among Brazilian university students: a national survey
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Objective: To investigate the relationship between religiosity and drug use among Brazilian university students.
Methods: This manuscript is part of the “First Nationwide Survey on the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs among College Students in the 27 Brazilian State Capitals”. In this study, 12,595 university students were divided into two groups according to their attendance at religious services: frequent attenders (FR; 39.1%) and non-frequent attenders (NFR; 60.8%). Subsequently, we analyzed their responses to a structured, anonymous questionnaire on drug use and other behaviors. Individual multivariate logistic regression models tested the association between religiosity and drug use (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and at least one illicit drug).
Results: Drug use over the last 30 days was higher among NFR students even after controlling for demographic variables. NFR students were more likely to use alcohol OR = 2.52; 95% CI: 2.08- 3.06, tobacco (2.83; 2.09-3.83), marijuana (2.09; 1.39-3.11) and at least one illicit drug (1.42;1.12-1.79) compared to FR students.
Conclusion: Religiosity was found to be a strongly protective factor against drug use among Brazilian university students. However, more studies are needed to identify the mechanisms by which religiosity exerts this protective influence.