TIME magazine recently reported on a study done in the U.K. that could connect children with higher IQs to drug use. The study was based on research of over 7,500 U.K. children born in early April 1970. Their IQs were tested at ages 5 and 10, and followed up with a questionnaire at ages 16 and 30.
By age 30, the study found that 35% of men and 16% of women said they had smoked marijuana at least once in the previous year, with a smaller percentage reporting cocaine use. Surprisingly, those who had reported previous drug use had a higher IQ than non-users.
Perhaps equally as surprising, women who had tested higher at age 5 for IQ were more than twice as likely to have used drugs by age 30 than women who had ranked in the lower IQ percentile. Men who tested higher only had a 50% increase in likelihood of drug use.
Before you start carting your little ones off to have their IQ tested, let’s examine why perhaps the smartest individuals choose to use drugs.
Lead author of the Center for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University in Wales, James White, believes that the answer lies in the experience threshold.
Typically, those with higher IQs seek out more experiences, which mean that drug use is more likely to be a one-time use as opposed to a developing addiction. Even a single dose of marijuana or cocaine can prove to be addicting. Neurologists in Oklahoma City and pediatric centers recommend that you never try the addicting drug.
Contrary to the reports on drug use, children who demonstrated higher IQs were also more likely to make healthy decisions. They are less likely to smoke cigarettes and more likely to be active with a good, balanced diet.
Likewise, since children with higher IQs tend to use drugs once and only for the experience, they aren’t likely to associate with peers who may use drugs daily. They don’t see drugs as harmful, a gateway, or anything other than a simple, pure experience they would not otherwise be able to attain. This flippant attitude lends to the idea that children with higher IQs aren’t actually addicted to drugs, although they may occasionally use them.
Instead, children with higher IQs are more susceptible to boredom and social isolation due to their increased intelligence over their peers. This loneliness may also contribute to occasional drug use, without condoning an overall habit.
The stereotype for drug users is typically underprivileged children living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet by pushing illegal substances on the streets. However, the reality might be that the smartest children are actually the ones smoking marijuana in their mother’s basement, right before heading to their job as CEO.