Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 1340–1355 | Cite as

Urban Religious Congregations’ Responses to Community Substance Use: An Exploratory Study of Four Cases

  • Benjamin E. Hidalgo
  • Kathryn P. DeroseEmail author
  • David E. Kanouse
  • Peter J. Mendel
  • Ricky N. Bluthenthal
  • Clyde W. Oden
Original Paper


Faith-based drug treatment programs are common, and many are implemented through congregations; however, little is documented about how congregations conceptualize and implement these programs. We use case study analysis to explore congregational approaches to drug treatment; qualitative findings emerged in three areas: (1) religion’s role in congregational responses to substance use, (2) relationships between program participants and the broader congregation, and (3) interactions between congregational programs and the external community. Congregational approaches to drug treatment can be comprehensive, but work is needed to evaluate such efforts. Congregants’ attitudes may influence whether program participants become members of a sustaining congregational community.


Substance abuse Religious congregations Faith based Case study Health disparities 



Dr. Hidalgo completed much of the work for this paper while a Summer Associate at the RAND Corporation during his PhD program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign. The authors thank the study’s Community Advisory Board who provided excellent guidance and counsel throughout the study, especially the Rev. Michael Mata, Delis Alejandro, Deborah Collins, Mario Pérez, Father Chris Ponnet, and Richard Zaldivar. We also thank the 4 case study congregations included in this manuscript and their leaders, who, for confidentiality reasons, are not named.


This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health or NIH (Grant Numbers R01HD050150 and R24MD007943). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study was approved the by authors’ institutional review board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Bethel African Methodist Episcopal ChurchOxnardUSA

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