Spiritual Struggles as a Possible Risk Factor for Addictive Behaviors: An Initial Empirical Investigation

Carol Ann Faigin, Kenneth I. Pargament, Hisham Abu-Raiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has provided robust evidence that religious/spiritual variables serve as protective factors against developing addictive behaviors, such as substance-related abuse. Few studies, however, have considered whether religious/spiritual variables may be risk factors in the development of addictive behaviors. One such variable, spiritual struggles, is receiving increased attention and has been empirically linked to various negative psychological and physical outcomes. The current longitudinal study examined spiritual struggles as a predictor in the development of addictive behaviors among a sample of 90 freshmen college students. Findings indicate that higher scores on spiritual struggles were tied to higher levels of 11 out of 14 domains of addiction, including caffeine, exercise, food starving, gambling, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, sex, shopping, tobacco, and work. This is the first study to demonstrate spiritual struggles as a possible risk factor in the development of a wide range of potentially destructive behaviors for first-year college students. Practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalThe International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


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