The large majority of high school students and young adults attend religious services at least occasionally and say that religion has some importance in their life. There is, however, considerable variation along these dimensions, with far fewer than half of young people attending on a weekly basis or rating religion as “very important” in their lives. These variations in religious involvement are linked to variations in substance use, and they are also linked to some extent with role changes that occur in young adulthood. All of these factors are examined in this chapter.
High school students who consider religion to be very important in their lives and who attend services frequently are much less likely to smoke, drink, and use illicit drugs. There are a variety of possible explanations for these relationships, as discussed in chapter 2. In this chapter we focus on the less often studied topics of change (and stability) in religious attendance and importance during young adulthood. We first report overall change and stability along these dimensions; then we examine how religiosity is related to substance use and also to the new freedoms and responsibilities that come with adulthood.
We use the term religiosity at times as a shorthand for two quite distinct, though strongly correlated, dimensions: frequency of attendance at reli-