Gender Differences in the Association Between Religion/Spirituality and Simultaneous Polysubstance Use (SPU)

Abenaa B. Acheampong, Sonam Lasopa, Catherine W. Striley, Linda B. Cottler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


While religion/spirituality strongly protects against drug use (Cheney et al. in J Drug Issues 44(1):94–113, 2014), little is known about gender differences in the association of religion/spirituality on simultaneous polysubstance use (SPU) among those who use prescription opioids. Data come from a community-based study that recruited community members from the St Louis area (N = 632). Participants were asked whether they used prescription opioids when not prescribed for them or in ways other than prescribed in the past 12 months. Religion/spirituality was categorized as high, medium, or low based on personal views on the importance of religion and spirituality, attendance at religious services, and advice seeking from religious leaders. SPU was defined as non-medical use of opioids simultaneously with use of cocaine, alcohol, ecstasy, or marijuana. Multivariate logistic regression determined the association between religion/spirituality, demographic variables, and SPU. Men with high levels of religion/spirituality had 63 % decreased odds of SPU compared with men with low levels. Other variables associated with SPU in men were four or more arrests (AOR 2.21), multiple sex partners (AOR 2.11), and opioid use without a prescription (AOR 3.04). Women with high or medium levels of religion/spirituality had 58 and 62 % decreased odds of SPU compared with women with low levels. Variables that predicted SPU in women also included 4+ arrests (AOR 5.00) and never being married (AOR 2.13). Being African-American was associated with decreased odds of SPU in women (AOR 0.32). Overall, a high level of religion/spirituality was associated with lower odds of SPU. Gender differences in this association were evident, whereas women with even a medium level of religion/spirituality had significantly decreased odds of SPU. Future drug prevention and interventions should consider the relevance of religion/spirituality in SPU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1574-1584
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Religious studies


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