Very often the parent of a young adult who is using illegal drugs will tell us they do not understand why they are abusing drugs. They tell us it is baffling because they are so smart and so talented.
More often than not, we treat young adults for addiction who are extremely intelligent.
High IQ Associated with Drug Abuse
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health states that a high IQ in childhood could be associated to illegal drug abuse later in life, especially among women. The study does not predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to engage in healthy and beneficial behavior, only that they are more likely to engage in evolutionarily novel behavior.
The researchers findings were based on data from just under 8,000 individuals in the 1970 British Cohort Study, a large ongoing population based investigation, which examines educational attainment, lifetime drug use as well as socioeconomic factors. Researchers used a validated scale in order to measure the IQ scores of participants at the ages of 5 and 10 years.
In addition they collected information on participants self reported levels of drug use and psychological distress at the age of 16 and again at the age of 30 (drug use only). Drug use included cocaine, cannabis, LSD, heroin, barbiturates, and speed. They discovered that 1 in 3 men and 1 in 6 women had used marijuana by the age of 30.
Intelligence not Social Class or Income
They discovered that the same associations appeared between participants who received a high IQ score at the age of 10 and subsequent use of ecstasy,marijuana, multiple drug use and cocaine, even though this last connection was only apparent at age 30. The discoveries held true, regardless of parental social class, lifetime household income and anxiety/depression during adolescence.
The human consumption of psychoactive drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, is of even more recent historical origin than the human consumption of alcohol or tobacco, so the hypothesis would predict that more intelligent people use more drugs more frequently than less intelligent individuals.
Intelligent People Don’t Always Do the Right Thing
According to Psychology Today, “Very bright” individuals (with IQs above 125) are roughly three-tenths of a standard deviation more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than “very dull” individuals (with IQs below 75).
People – scientists and average Americans alike – often associate intelligence with positive life outcomes. The fact that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs tampers the universally positive view of intelligence and intelligent individuals. Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing, only the evolutionarily novel thing.
Sobriety – Novel & Evolutionary
Perhaps that is why we see such great success with our intelligent young adult clients at Balboa Horizons. Once they are immersed in our outstanding drug and alcohol treatment program, they begin to see that sobriety is cool and then it becomes the obvious next step in their personal evolution.