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November 15, 2011

D'oh!: new research suggests being smart could be a gateway drug

For anyone deeply concerned about drug use, new research is suggesting that it is better for kids to be pretty dense like Homer Simpson rather than wicked smart like Lisa Simpson.  At least that seems to be the take away from this new CNN report headlined "High IQ linked to drug use," which starts this way:

The "Just Say No" generation was often told by parents and teachers that intelligent people didn't use drugs.  Turns out, the adults may have been wrong.

A new British study finds children with high IQs are more likely to use drugs as adults than people who score low on IQ tests as children.   The data come from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has been following thousands of people over decades. The kids' IQs were tested at the ages of 5, 10 and 16.  The study also asked about drug use and looked at education and other socioeconomic factors. Then when participants turned 30, they were asked whether they had used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the past year.

Researchers discovered men with high childhood IQs were up to two times more likely to use illegal drugs than their lower-scoring counterparts.  Girls with high IQs were up to three times more likely to use drugs as adults. A high IQ is defined as a score between 107 and 158. An average IQ is 100.  The study [available here] appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The lead researcher says he isn't surprised by the findings. "Previous research found for the most part people with high IQs lead a healthy life, but that they are more likely to drink to excess as adults," says James White a psychologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

It's not clear why people with high childhood IQs are more likely to use illegal drugs. "We suspect they may be more open to new experiences and are more sensation seeking," says White. In the paper, White and his co-author also mention other studies that find high IQ kids may use drugs because they are bored or to cope with being different.

November 15, 2011 at 09:57 AM | Permalink


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People with high IQ's have better jobs, and more disposable income. They can afford illegal drugs more than their low IQ friends. Is that a difficult concept or something, for the lawyer?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 15, 2011 12:34:08 PM

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."--T. Roosevelt

Intelligence does not equate to morality.

Posted by: adamakis | Nov 15, 2011 1:15:32 PM

Taking illegal drugs is illegal, not immoral. These plants, distillates and herbs have been ingested for thousands of years. Only in recent history have they become illegal. It's possible that children with high IQs are less susceptible to the anti drug messages developed by ad agencies for the ONDCP.

Posted by: beth | Nov 15, 2011 2:11:45 PM


Perhaps you reckon that the likes of River Phoenix, Brittany Murphy, and Heath Ledger were of high IQs, or just exceptions to your rule? How about Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, and Max Cantor? At least they were "less susceptible to the anti drug messages" of "ad agencies".

They *were* susceptible to death due to drug overdose.

Or were they merely shooting for the Darwin Awards as part of a grand paradoxical gesture?

Illegal may not be immoral to you, but is it not ill-advised and dangerous?

Check it out:
"Smoking Marijuana Doubles Risk of Fatal Accidents"--http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/pot_driving.htm

Posted by: adamakis | Nov 16, 2011 10:11:34 AM

An individual with an addictive personality will become addicted to mood altering substances like alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, cocaine, and morphine. The vast majority of individuals who use these substances will not have a problem.

The propensity for addiction has nothing to do with IQ nor did I say that it did. People who are addicted to alcohol have a wide range of IQs. I simply mused that perhaps a high IQ individual would be more likely to disregard information from the government, thus those with a genetic disposition to addiction would be more likely to try the substance.

I think this study should be done with alcohol alone as a control as this is a socially acceptable drug that is not illegal. They did find that high IQ people were more likely to drink to excess, which proves the point - if it was statistically correct.

Posted by: beth | Nov 16, 2011 12:12:47 PM

Of course, there's no reference to the methodology employed. Might I suggest a plausible explanation:

Children raised in families of higher socioeconomic status tend to be more intelligent.
Children raised in those situations also have more disposable income that could be used to purchase drugs.

Posted by: Easy | Nov 16, 2011 12:40:54 PM

Easy: You are obviously not a lawyer. That is evident by your common sense.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 17, 2011 3:49:34 AM

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