Religion And Drug Use Drug use

and religion have been intertwined throughout history, but the nature of this relationship has varied over time and from place to place. Alcohol and other drugs have played important roles in the religious rituals of numerous groups. For example, among a number of native South American groups, TOBACCO was considered sacred and was used in religious ritual, including the consultation of spirits and the initiation of religious leaders. Similarly, wine, representing the blood of Christ, has been central in the Holy Communion observances of both Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches. Considered divine by the Aztecs of ancient Mexico, the PEYOTE cactus (which contains a number of psychoactive substances, including the psychedelic drug MESCALINE) is used today in the religious services of the contemporary Native American church (Goode, 1984).

Although tobacco, ALCOHOL, peyote, and other drugs have been important in the religious observances and practices of numerous groups, many religious teachings have opposed either casual use or the abuse of psychoactive drugsā€”and some religious groups forbid any use of such drugs, for religious purposes or otherwise. Early in America's history, Protestant religious groups were especially prominent in the TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT. Many of the ministers preached against the evils of drunkenness, and well-known Protestant leaders, such as John Wesley, called for the prohibition of all alcoholic beverages (Cahalan, 1987). The Latter-day Saints' (Mormons) leader Joseph Smith prohibited the use of all common drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine (no coffee or tea), as did other Utopian groups founded during the Great Awakening of the early 1800s. Religious groups and individuals were also active in America's early (1860s-1880s) antismoking movement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1992). In contemporary American society, certain religious commitments continue to be a strong predictor of either use or abstinence from drugs, whether licit or illicit (Cochran et al., 1988; Gorsuch, 1988; Payne et al., 1991). For example, Islam forbids alcohol and opium use but coffee, tea, tobacco, khat, and various forms of marijuana were not prohibited, because they came into the Islamic world after the prohibitions were laid down. Indulgence in any debilitating substance is, however, not considered proper or productive. Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism may not prohibit specific drugs, but they and most other widespread, mainstream religious traditions also caution against indulgence in most substances. In our society, many who have indulged have sought the help of ALCOHOLICS

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