Religion Giveth, To Believers. Sorta.
"Some may think this is an obvious finding, but research and expert opinion on this issue have not been consistent," said BYU sociology professor Stephen Bahr and an author on the study. "After we accounted for family and peer characteristics, and regardless of denomination, there was an independent effect that those who were religious were less likely to do drugs, even when their friends were users."Researchers also found that religiosity doesn't have the same effect on use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. If marijuana and drinking are seen as 'grey areas', the 'black' areas of more hardcore drugs are, interestingly enough, little impacted by one's personal connection to their deity.
The study, co-authored by BYU sociologist John Hoffmann, also found individual religiosity buffered peer pressure for cigarette smoking and heavy drinking.
The term religiosity as used in the study has to do with people's participation in a religion and not the particular denomination. Hoffmann said the protective effect of church and spirituality supplements the influence of parents.
“Parents shouldn’t force it, but they can encourage spirituality and religion in their families, which in itself becomes a positive influence in their children’s lives,” Hoffmann said.
The study also exposed the fact that religiosity within the community as a whole does not play as big a role as thought by many.
"Previously, it was thought that if someone grew up in a religious community and went to church, then the community’s religious strength would make a difference,” Bahr said. “We basically found that this was not the case. Individual religiosity is what makes the difference."The bottom line here seems to be that if & when a person believes in & practices a religion, that faith is extended into a confidence which combats peer pressure; however, just how to instill such faith (as opposed to indoctrination) is unclear.