The relationship between the strength of atheistic and theistic beliefs and risky drug use: a public health issue
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Institute for Collective Health, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil
Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil
Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1242
Introduction: Religiousness has been pointed out in the public health literature as a protective factor for drug use; as religiosity increases, drug consumption decreases. However, such an Interpretation may not include other variables such as the type of religion, levels of religiosity and strength of belief. Belief strength refers to how and to what extent a persons belief system is well established and active in his/her life and worldview. Regardless of being theistic or atheistic, belief strength has been negatively correlated to depression and anxiety, and positively to quality of life. However, public health studies on risk and protective factors for drug use neglect the variable “belief strength”. Therefore, this research investigated such dimensions in theistic and atheist people as a risk or protective factor for the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Methods: The study was conducted online in Brazil, with adults aged 18 years or older. We used the ASSIST, AUDIT and Fargestrom scales to assess patterns of drug use and scales to assess degrees of religiosity (Centrality of Religiosity Scale) and atheism (Dimensions of Secularity scale). Results/Discussion: 5.256 people participated in the study, including atheists, agnostics, Evangelicals, Umbandists, Catholics, esotericists, spiritualists, Buddhists and people who declared themselves not to be adherent to any religion, but to believe in a superior power/a God. The types of drugs and more frequent consumption patterns in these religious or non-religious groups are presented. The results are compared with those from studies in other areas of health, in which a curvilinear relationship emerged. The association between drug use patterns and secular social variables such as participation in voluntary work (compared to attendance at religious services) are discussed. In addition, we discuss the differences among men, women and the LGBTQ population in drug consumption patterns.
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