Does Religiosity Delay Adolescent Alcohol Initiation? A Long-Term Analysis (2008–2015) of Nationally Representatives Sample of 12th Graders
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Objective: Underage alcohol consumption is associated with deleterious consequences, with earlier initiation leading to increased likelihood of alcohol misuse and dependence later in life. Religiosity represents a protective factor, such that those with increased religiosity delay alcohol initiation. Herein, we test the association between religiosity and alcohol initiation across several distinct national samples of high school seniors in the United States. Method: To assess long-term associations between alcohol initiation and religiosity, we utilized latent growth curve modeling and simple mean plots to conduct a secondary data analysis on 8 years (2008-2015) of the Monitoring the Future Survey (n = 20,099). Results: When compared with the baseline model, which posited a consistent age of initiation of approximately 9th grade χ2 (n = 18,224, df = 31) = 33.70, p <.34, CFI = .000, TLI = 1.00, RMSEA = .006 (90% CI: .00, .017), religiosity plays an equally consistent role in delaying age of initiation by two grade levels, or three calendar years χ2 (n = 17,978, df = 159.116) = 159.17, p<.0001, CFI = .848, TLI = .834, RMSEA = .017 (90% CI: .00, .03). When means were parsed out by religiosity level and gender, religion was a stronger protector against alcohol age of initiation for females than males. These associations were constant over the 8-year period and across multiple nationally representative samples of adolescents. Conclusions: Religiosity delays alcohol initiation for adolescents. Prevention programs should seek to identify which components of religiosity are most impactful, and subsequently develop and incorporate programmatic aspects that leverage these factors.
author list (cited authors)
Barry, A. E., Valdez, D., & Russell, A. M.