Religious Schools Less Troubled by Drugs


According to a new study, Catholic and other religious schools have fewer drug-related problems than public schools.

NEW YORK - Catholic and other religious schools have fewer drug-related problems than public schools, according to a new study.

The National Center on Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, which sponsored the study, said three-fourths of teen-agers in religious schools regarded their school as drug-free. Only 40% of those attending public schools considered their school drug-free.

Teen-agers in religious schools “are at half the risk of abusing tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs as teens in a school where drugs are used, kept or sold,” said the center's president, Joseph A. Califano Jr., former secretary of health, education and welfare.

“Religious schools are doing a far better job providing a drug-free environment for our teens,” he added.

For the study, researchers conducted a nationwide telephone survey, interviewing 2,000 students between the ages of 12 and 17 and 1,000 parents with children in that age range.

Ten percent of the teen-agers interviewed said they attended a religiously affiliated school - 7% Catholic, 3% other than Catholic.

The researchers found that teenagers who said their schools are not drug-free are:

  • nearly three times likelier to smoke cigarettes.
  • three times likelier to have tried marijuana.
  • two times likelier to know a teenager who uses cocaine, heroin or a hallucinogenic drug.
  • two times likelier to have been offered marijuana.
  • more than two times likelier to get drunk on a monthly basis.

Students in drug-free schools are at half the risk of substance abuse and are two times more likely to tell school authorities if they learn of someone using or selling drugs, said the study, which was released Aug. 30.

The center also found that teenagers are less likely to be substance abusers if they attend church frequently, maintain good relationships with their parents and have discussed substance abuse with their parents.

It said that “second to the family in influencing the teen is the school environment.”

The center has conducted yearly surveys of teen-agers and parents concerning drug use for five years. (CNS)


CNS. “Religious Schools Less Troubled by Drugs.” National Catholic Register. (Sept. 12, 1999).

Reprinted by permission of the National Catholic Register. To subscribe to the National Catholic Register call 1-800-421-3230.

Copyright © 1999 National Catholic Register

Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter



Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.