Lifetime alcohol use, abuse and dependence among university students in Lebanon: exploring the role of religiosity in different religious faiths
Article first published online: 6 MAY 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 104, Issue 6, pages 940–948, June 2009
How to Cite
Ghandour, L. A., Karam, E. G. and Maalouf, W. E. (2009), Lifetime alcohol use, abuse and dependence among university students in Lebanon: exploring the role of religiosity in different religious faiths. Addiction, 104: 940–948. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02575.x
- Issue published online: 6 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 6 MAY 2009
- Submitted 16 March 2008; initial review completed 30 June 2008; final version accepted 13 February 2009
Aims To examine alcohol consumption and the role of religiosity in alcohol use disorders in Christian, Druze and Muslim youth in Lebanon, given their distinct religious doctrines and social norms.
Methods Using a self-completed anonymous questionnaire, data were collected on 1837 students, selected randomly from two large private universities in Beirut. Life-time abuse and dependence were measured as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version IV.
Findings Alcohol use was more common in Christians, who started drinking younger and were twice as likely to be diagnosed with abuse and dependence. However, among ever drinkers, the odds of alcohol use disorders were comparable across religious groups. Believing in God and practising one's faith were related inversely to alcohol abuse and dependence in all religious groups, even among ever drinkers (belief in God only). The associations were sometimes stronger for Muslims, suggesting that religiosity may play a larger role in a more proscriptive religion, as postulated by‘reference group theory’.
Conclusions Students belonging to conservative religious groups may be shielded from the opportunity to try alcohol. Once an ever drinker, however, religion is not related to the odds of an alcohol use disorder. Religiosity (i.e. belief in God and religious practice) is, nevertheless, related inversely to alcohol-related problems, even among drinkers. Findings from this culturally and religiously diverse Arab country corroborate the international literature on religion, religiosity and alcohol use, highlighting potential differences between Christians and Muslims.