A friend alerted me to the following story today. Despite its utilitarian approach to religious conviction, the essay is certainly worth sharing.

Parents do their best to provide a wholesome, healthy environment for children in the Newburyport area, yet it’s often to no avail. Scores of young people find their lives ruined by drugs, as evidenced most recently in a spate of heroin overdoses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have in our midst a powerful, much-overlooked tool that’s been proven in other regions to help young people come of age, healthy and whole.

The tool is religious culture. Local congregations and house churches are quietly cultivating it here every day. It shields lives from the scourges of addiction and predation — if we use it. The key is to realize the relevance of what we’ve inherited and reinvigorate it with exercise and imagination.

In America, the correlations are striking: the weaker the religious culture, the greater the problems with drugs.

Consider what we know from a 2013 Gallup Poll and the federal government’s  2010-11 national survey on drug use. Six of the 10 least religious states (including Massachusetts and New Hampshire) rank in the top 10 for illicit drug use. All 10 least-religious states rank in the top 20 for illicit drug use.

Where faith is weak, the allure of drugs is apparently strong — so strong that addiction routinely takes hold. In Massachusetts, the nation’s fourth least religious state, the rate of substance abuse disorders is 19 percent higher than the national rate. In New Hampshire, the abuse rate is 9 percent higher than the national one.

Click here for the rest of the story.