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People whose view of religion changes over time are at increased risk of using drugs, alcohol or tobacco, a new study suggests. In contrast, people who are religious throughout their lives have a lower risk of substance misuse, the researchers said.

People whose religious beliefs play a central role in their upbringing, and then lose their ties to religion as they grow older, are at increased risk of substance use, the study found. People who do not grow up with strong ties to religion, but who become devout in adulthood, are also more likely to be at risk for substance use, HealthCanal reports.

The researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence studied more than 6,000 people.
“Consistently high levels of religiosity protects against substance misuse, but substantial changes, whether losses or gains, in religiosity over the life course are associated with increased odds of substance use problems,” lead researcher Arden Moscati said in a news release.

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