People with high IQs are more likely to consume mind-altering substances, research finds.
Whether it is alcohol, tobacco or psychoactive drugs like LSD, intelligence and drug-taking are linked.
More intelligent people are also more likely to have sampled a variety of different recreational drugs in the past.
The explanation could be that intelligent people are attracted to novelty or that they do not fear becoming addicted due to higher self-control.
The conclusions come from a series of studies conducted around the world.
One looked at data from the UK and the US, tracking childhood intelligence and the drugs people took later in life.
The study’s authors explain the results:
“More intelligent children, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, are more likely to grow up to consume more alcohol.
More intelligent American children are more likely to grow up to consume more tobacco, while more intelligent British children are more likely to grow up to consume more illegal drugs.”
A second study used a survey of 12,686 people in the US who were first interviewed in 1979 and tracked to the present day.
The results showed that:
“…intelligence tends to be positively related to the probabilities of having tried alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and several other recreational drugs.”
One explanation is that more intelligent people value novelty.
But, there are other ideas:
“…more intelligent people may be less concerned about addiction.
More intelligent people tend to be better at self-control and may therefore be better at restricting their consumption of addictive substances[…]
If more intelligent people anticipate that they will be able to break their addictions, then they may be more likely to try recreational drugs.”
This fits with another recent study that found that people with high IQs drink more alcohol, although they are unlikely to be heavy drinkers.
Another possibility is that more intelligent people are more likely to get bored.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do