People with high IQs are more likely to smoke marijuana and take other illegal drugs, compared with those who score lower on intelligence tests, according to a new study from the U.K.
“It’s counterintuitive,” says lead author James White of the Center for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University in Wales. “It’s not what we thought we would find.”
The research was based on interviews with some 7,900 British people born in early April 1970. Researchers measured the participants IQs at ages 5 and 10, then followed up with them at ages 16 and 30, asking about symptoms of psychological distress and drug use as part of a larger survey.
At age 30, about 35% of men and 16% of women said they had smoked marijuana at least once in the previous year; over the same time period, 9% of men and 4% of women said they had taken cocaine. Previous-year drug users tended to have scored higher on IQ tests than non-users.

The IQ effect was larger in women: women in the top third of the IQ range at age 5 were more than twice as likely to have taken marijuana or cocaine by age 30, compared with those scoring in the bottom third. The men with the highest IQs were nearly 50% more likely to have taken amphetamines and 65% more likely to have taken ecstasy, compared to those with lower scores.

And these results held even when researchers controlled for factors like socioeconomic status and psychological distress, which are also correlated with rates of drug use.

So why might smarter kids be more likely to try drugs? “People with high IQs are more likely to score high on personality scales of openness to experience,” says White. “They may be more willing to experiment and seek out novel experiences.”

Another factor could be that the messages used to attempt to deter teens from drug use — particularly during the 1980s in the U.K. when the study group was in adolescence — weren’t exactly known for the subtlety of their reasoning, so they may not have targeted the smarter group well.
“What you typically find is that people with high IQs are less likely to smoke [cigarettes], more likely to be active and to have a good diet,” says White, noting that they are also likely to have high socioeconomic status. People in this group tend to make healthy choices, based both on health information and their own experience.
This group isn’t likely to see occasional drug use as particularly harmful, White says, both because there is little data to suggest great risk of harm from such use and because evidence of harm is rare among their peers. “With smoking, the evidence [about its dangers] is overwhelming,” says White, “whereas when you look at things like cannabis use, since they are more likely to associate with people who are similar to them, they are likely to see that smoking cannabis relatively infrequently doesn’t have huge impact.”
In contrast, drug users with less education and wealth are more likely to be exposed to negative consequences of drug use. This is due in part to the fact that money itself can buy protection against the types of criminal involvement and disease that can affect poor drug users.
“The likely mechanism is openness to experience,” White concludes, “and, I think, it’s also this idea of having an educated view of risk as well.” (Of course, American views about what consists of an “educated” perspective on drug risks have often clashed with those of the more relaxed position typically taken in Europe.)

The study didn’t look at the risk of addiction among those with high IQs because it wasn’t able to measure the frequency of drug use in participants. However, earlier research has found a connection between high IQ and greater risk of alcohol abuse and dependence.

That could potentially be linked to the boredom and social isolation experienced by many gifted children, the authors note. But since a link between IQ and drug use remains independent of psychological distress, that can’t be all that’s going on. “It rules out the argument that the only reason people take illegal drugs is to self medicate,” says White.

The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

sourced from:healthland


  1. I am high right now reading this and i feel so intelligent

  2. The disparity between the (sometimes absurd) anti drugs propaganda in the eighties and what kids could see going on with their older peers actually having a blast and not dropping like flies may also have something to do with it.

  3. But ecstasy, or using it's actual name - MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), is an amphetamine in itself; the fact that men are 50% more likely to have taken amphetamine yet 65% more likely to have taken MDMA doesn't quite make sense to me.

    1. MDMA (ecstasy) is a meth-amphetamine which is classified differently than amphetamines. does that make more sense to you now?

  4. These scientist is or was once a peddler or a drug dealer and has bad intentions with his/her useless research there is no way drug use signifies intellectual superiority. just because he has used the word science does not mean anything blurts out is accurate

    1. apparently you consider yourself intellectually superior and are afraid of drugs/have a preconceived notion of the character of someone who HAS used drugs...

    2. Hey idiot, he didn't say drug use makes you intelligent. Obviously this study wasn't about you!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. the fact alone that it takes a chemist to create these drugs, and a genious to dodge the police factor these days, says enough for me. besides, it's not that they are doing something wrong, it's that i'm not experiencing something that they have, which means i should have no room to speak on the behalf of drug use anyway. only one who has used, should get to decide whether or not it was a bad thing... i've seen people who started using ecstasy pull themselves out of depression and get great jobs...whether or not it was caused by the drug or the "scene" i'm not sure, but i agree with the science.

  7. Because drugs are stigmatized and governments did a good job making people believe all drugs are bad. When LSD was introduced to psychiatric institutes it was received with open arms, helping people with their problems which had been festering for years, solving it with one dosage.
    It's also the psychedelics in particular which have benefictory applications. However you can't control entirely what will happen during the usage of these substances. In fact, the benefictory part of it is letting go, stop trying to control things which can't be changed by your hands, and radically accepting reality.
    The problematic part of psychedelics is that the state of being can be so enchanting it can start a new addict. That's why instead of making it illegal it would be better society embraced psychedelics and start using it with great care in controlled, yet loose and loving environments.
    There are countless examples of positive applications for psychedelics, but people are afraid and don't want to open their eyes to it because it is illegal. The fact it is illegal makes it a direct no-no for people, without even considering it might simply be because people who use psychedelics have a tendency to start thinking independently and making their own conclusions based on the experience of their >own< lives, rather than assimilating the illusionary construct of government and society.

  8. its a bit obvious actuallyu..
    ppl with higher IQ, try to do more innovative and new things... they try new things to see of ot works..
    so they face more failures..
    so they get ridiculed more.. that too by people who themselves are idiots..
    this leads to frustration...
    thuis leads to drugs.. but at the same time.. these are the very people who take the world forward.. they bring the change..

    people crazy enough to think they can changes the world are the ones who actually can !

  9. people with higher IQs get bored easily and need to stimulate their minds...

  10. As somebody with a high IQ, yes, much of the time I am bored. Weed just magically makes the rest of you more bearable.

  11. How about a study on the correlation between Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and drug use? Recent research is showing that people with high IQs are actually less happy and do not live as long as their high EQ counterparts.

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