Racial Discrimination and Trajectories of Problematic Alcohol Use Among African American Emerging Adults: The Role of Organizational Religious Involvement

Danielle R. Busby, Meredith O. Hope, Daniel B. Lee, Justin E. Heinze, Marc A. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racial discrimination jeopardizes a wide range of health behaviors for African Americans. Numerous studies demonstrate significant negative associations between racial discrimination and problematic alcohol use among African Americans. Culturally specific contexts (e.g., organized religious involvement) often function protectively against racial discrimination’s adverse effects for many African Americans. Yet organized religious involvement may affect the degree to which racial discrimination increases problematic alcohol use resulting in various alcohol use trajectories. These links remain understudied in emerging adulthood marked by when individuals transition from adolescence to early adult roles and responsibilities. We use data from 496 African American emerging adults from the Flint Adolescent Study (FAS) to (a) identify multiple and distinct alcohol use trajectories and (b) examine organizational religious involvement’s protective role. Three trajectory classes were identified: the high/stable, (20.76% of sample; n = 103); moderate/stable, (39.52% of sample; n = 196); and low/rising, (39.72% of the sample; n = 197). After controlling for sex, educational attainment, and general stress, the interaction between racial discrimination and organized religious involvement did not influence the likelihood of classifying into the moderate/stable class or the low/rising class, compared with the high/stable class. These results suggest organized religious involvement counteracts, but does not buffer racial discrimination’s effects on problematic alcohol use. Findings emphasize the critical need for culturally sensitive prevention efforts incorporating organized religious involvement for African American emerging adults exposed to racial discrimination. These prevention efforts may lessen the role of racial discrimination on health disparities related to alcohol use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-255
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • alcohol
  • emerging adults
  • racial discrimination
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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