A study conducted by the British Medical Journal found that individuals with higher IQs in childhood may be more likely to use cannabis by the age of 30. Researchers tested the IQs of approximately 8,000 men and women, four times each, between the ages of 5 and 30 and concluded that the higher the IQ, the more likely it was that the participants would eventually get high in the future.
The British Cohort Study sought to examine lifetime drug use and its relationship to socioeconomic and educational factors. They ultimately found that IQ seemed to be inextricably linked to cannabis use, even more so than the appearance of mental disorders, social standing and family income levels.
IQ scores of the participants were gathered at ages 5 and 10; then again at 16 and 30. It turns out that women with high IQ scores were twice as likely to use cannabis as those with low IQ scores. Men with high scores were also 50 percent more likely to use cannabis by the age of 30.
Although most studies have suggested that higher child or adolescent IQ prompts the adoption of a healthy lifestyle as an adult, other studies have linked higher childhood IQ scores to excess alcohol intake and alcohol dependency in adulthood.
Researchers don’t know exactly why high IQs are linked with cannabis use, but the authors believe that people of high intelligence are “open to experiences” and are “keen on novelty and stimulation.”
They also believe that highly intelligent people may also be prone to anxiety disorders and/or may not fit as well into their surrounding environment, which may factor into the desire to escape or relieve these tensions through pot use later on in adulthood.
Cannabis use, in particular, could also be popular among people with high IQs because the plant itself simply isn’t harmful and can be seen as a way to enhance certain mental processes. The authors also believe that the boredom that many gifted children experience may be another reason why pot use is likely.
James White, the lead author for the study was a bit stunned by the findings, saying,
It’s counterintuitive. It’s not what we thought we would find.
The authors began with the premise that individuals with lower IQs would be more prone to drug use as a way to cope with environmental or socioeconomic struggles. But after the study concluded, White said: “It rules out the argument that the only reason people take illegal drugs is to self-medicate.”
Perhaps higher intelligence correlates with the need to seek out stimulating behaviors and/or new ways to view and solve problems and, well couldn’t the world use more of that?