Religion, Self Control, and Substance Use

Scott A. Desmond, Jeffery T. Ulmer, Christopher D. Bader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Previous research has examined a number of mechanisms through which religion might have an indirect influence on substance use. One potential intervening mechanism that has received little empirical attention is self control. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) we (1) examine the association between religion and self control, (2) determine if self control mediates the effect of religiosity on substance use, and (3) determine if the effect of self control on substance use varies depending on adolescents' religiosity. The results suggest that religious youth exhibit higher levels of self control. Also, self control partially mediates the effect of adolescents' religiosity on marijuana use and drinking. The only evidence we find for an interaction between self control and religiosity suggests self control has a moderately greater effect on alcohol use among those of low, rather than medium or high, religiosity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-406
Number of pages23
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Religion, Self Control, and Substance Use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this