The Clever children are most likely to use drugs when older, new study finds

By Synesthesiac · Jun 15, 2012 · ·
  1. Synesthesiac
    High Childhood IQ Linked to Subsequent Illicit Drug Use, Research Suggests

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2011) — A high childhood IQ may be linked to subsequent illegal drug use, particularly among women, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

    The authors base their findings on data from just under 8,000 people in the 1970 British Cohort Study, a large ongoing population based study, which looks at lifetime drug use, socioeconomic factors, and educational attainment.

    The IQ scores of the participants were measured at the ages of 5 and 10 years, using a validated scale, and information was gathered on self reported levels of psychological distress and drug use at the age of 16, and again at the age of 30 (drug use only) .

    Drug use included cannabis; cocaine; uppers (speed and wiz); downers (blues, tanks, barbiturates); LSD (acid); and heroin.

    By the age of 30, around one in three men (35.4%) and one in six women (15.9%) had used cannabis, while 8.6% of men and 3.6% of women had used cocaine, in the previous 12 months.
    A similar pattern of use was found for the other drugs, with overall drug use twice as common among men as among women.

    When intelligence was factored in, the analysis showed that men with high IQ scores at the age of 5 were around 50% more likely to have used amphetamines, ecstasy, and several illicit drugs than those with low scores, 25 years later.
    The link was even stronger among women, who were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine as those with low IQ scores.

    The same associations emerged between a high IQ score at the age of 10 and subsequent use of cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, multiple drug use and cocaine, although this last association was only evident at the age of 30.

    The findings held true, irrespective of anxiety/depression during adolescence, parental social class, and lifetime household income.

    "Although most studies have suggested that higher child or adolescent IQ prompts the adoption of a healthy lifestyle as an adult, other studies have linked higher childhood IQ scores to excess alcohol intake and alcohol dependency in adulthood," write the authors.

    Although it is not yet clear exactly why there should be a link between high IQ and illicit drug use, the authors point to previous research, showing that highly intelligent people are open to experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation.

    Other research has also shown that brainy children are often easily bored and suffer at the hands of their peers for being different, "either of which could conceivably increase vulnerability to using drugs as an avoidant coping strategy," explain the authors.

    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal.
    Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
    Journal Reference:

    • James White, G. David Batty. Intelligence across childhood in relation to illegal drug use in adulthood: 1970 British Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2011; DOI: 10.1136/jech-2011-200252
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    BMJ-British Medical Journal (2011, November 14). High childhood IQ linked to subsequent illicit drug use, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from* /releases/2011/11/111114221018.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20sciencedaily%20(ScienceDaily:%20Latest%20Science%20News)&utm_content=Google%20Feedfetcher

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  1. Lelouch
    Very interesting, the opposite of this seems to be implied by media/education. From personal experience, I find that this is indeed true but I believe that if IQ was measured at age 17 or 18 that the percent of those people to use the more risky/dangerous drugs would be less so in the people who had high IQ's at age those ages, and that the use of more dangerous drugs would be present more so in people with low IQs at these ages. But again this is just an assumption based on me having a high IQ at those ages, and the knowledge of the drug use of many of my low-IQ peers.
  2. Synesthesiac
    I think that IQs kind of a meaningless way to test intelligence anyway. There are different types of intelligence, and it tests mainly western based academic intelligence, ignoring cultural intelligence and social inteliigence. Some of the brightest people in the world have awful social intelligence and are extremely reclusive or socially inept in some way.

    IQ and intelligence is still a matter of scientific contention, i'm not sure what the modern consensus is haven't looked at the literature for a while on this subject.
  3. Makeup_Junkie
    One thing that irks me about this study is that it only states IQ as a factor and the article even says it doesn't account for preexisting mental conditions such as anxiety/depression, or other factors such as social class and parental income, etc. I'm a psychology major and it has been engrained into my head that correlation does not equal causation. Meaning that just because a child has a high IQ and has used drugs in adolescence and adulthood, that doesn't mean that their high IQ is the reason for their use of drugs. There are other factors other than just IQ that need to be considered. Anyway, that's just my two cents...
  4. beentheredonethatagain
    as we all know that drugs are used by all demographics.

    I believe that the brighter you are , the better you are suited to handle the drugs.

    if a person is dim without using they would get less bright upon their use.

    while at the same time I feel that smarter brighter people know what they are getting into and are apt to handle it , because why ? because we or they are still smart and maybe even smarter because of some drugs use.

    opening up your brain to unlock its potential.

    I agree that IQ can be meaningless in some people.
    just because you know complex mathmatical equations, or you could be the spelling bee wiz, maybe even the chess champ in your weight class, that does not mean a thing if you cant apply your genius in other area's of your life.

    or being smart is one thing , using those smarts is another. just because you have them dosent always mean you use them.

    I have know very intellegent people that have done a bunch of dumb things.
  5. Lelouch
    Like everyone's saying, how smart someone is definitely doesn't conclude whether that they'll use drugs or not, and in my opinion it probably barely affects it at all. I believe that the main reason people get into drugs is peer pressure and I bet many users from this site can vouch that they didn't learn about drugs completely on their own and that they didn't begin using them completely on their own. I think it would be a pretty rare case for someone to independently begin drug use without outside positive influence. But I do believe that an intelligent person with a high IQ would be highly drawn to use a substance that they've researched to have little to no negative effects. But all in all I think it's people's surroundings and how people are raised and how their friends and their friends and their friends grow up, and all of their beliefs (wrong or right) that lead to them using drugs. I think it's an immensely difficult (if even possible) thing to calculate with statistics because there's near infinite variables that lead up it.
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