Religiousness, spirituality, and substance use: A genetically sensitive examination and critique

Joseph L. Nedelec, George Richardson, Ian A. Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A growing literature has linked religiousness and spirituality (R/S) to substance use and abuse. However, it is not clear that R/S has causal effects on substance use. Currently, there is a relative lack of genetically sensitive examinations in the literature attendant to R/S effects. Given that behavioral genetic analyses have illustrated the influence of genetic factors on substance use and adherence to R/S worldviews, genetic confounding is a concern. The current study employed a sample of monozygotic twins discordant on religiousness, spirituality, and spiritual transformation to assess effects on substance use and abuse. Bivariate and multivariate models indicated a general lack of effect of R/S on substance use and abuse but did illustrate a dampening influence of religiousness on general (but not problematic) alcohol use. The findings highlight the importance of controlling for genetic and shared familial factors in examinations of the religiousness-spirituality-substance use nexus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-355
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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