Smart Kids More Likely to Try Illicit Drugs as Young
TUESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Brainy children are at
increased risk for illegal drug use when they're young adults, a
new study says.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people in the
ongoing 1970 British Cohort Study of drug use, education and
socioeconomic status. The participants' IQ scores were checked at
ages 5 and 10 years, and their use of illegal drugs (marijuana,
cocaine, uppers, downers, LSD and heroin) was self-reported at ages
16 and 30.
At age 30, about 35 percent of men and nearly 16 percent of
women had used marijuana in the previous year, and 8.6 percent of
men and 3.6 percent of women had used cocaine during that time. In
general, men were twice as likely as women to use drugs.
The investigators found that 30-year-old men who had high IQ
scores at age 5 were about 50 percent more likely than those who
had low IQ scores to have used amphetamines, ecstasy and several
At age 30, women who had high IQ scores at age 5 were more than
twice as likely to have used marijuana and cocaine as those with
low IQ scores.
The study, published in the Nov. 14 online edition of the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found similar associations between high IQ at age 10 and subsequent drug use.
The reasons for the link between high IQ and illegal drug use
aren't clear, but highly intelligent people are often open to new
experiences and embrace novelty and stimulation, the study authors
noted in a journal news release.
Previous research has also shown that highly intelligent
children tend to be easily bored and targeted by other children for
being different, "either of which could conceivably increase
vulnerability to using drugs as an avoidant coping strategy,"
according to James White of the Centre for the Development and
Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement
at Cardiff University in Wales, and a colleague.
While the study uncovered an association between IQ and drug
use, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about
drug abuse and addiction.
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