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15 November 2011
High IQ level linked to illegal drug use

A high childhood IQ appears to be linked to subsequent illegal drug use - particularly among women, according to researchers in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health .

The findings are based on data from 8,000 people in the 1970 British Cohort Study, a large ongoing population based study, which looks at lifetime drug use, socioeconomic factors and educational attainment.

The researchers say that by the age of 30, around one-in-three men and one-in-six women had used cannabis, while 9 percent of men and 4 percent of women had used cocaine.

But when intelligence was factored in, the analysis showed that men with high IQ scores at the age of 5 were around 50 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs than those with low scores. And the link was even stronger for women, who were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine as those with low IQ scores. The findings held true, irrespective of anxiety/depression during adolescence, parental social class, and lifetime household income.

Although it is not clear exactly why there should be a link between high IQ and illicit drug use, the researchers posit that highly intelligent people are open to experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation.

Other research has also shown that brainy children are often easily bored and suffer at the hands of their peers for being different, "either of which could conceivably increase vulnerability to using drugs as an avoidant coping strategy," suggest the authors.

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Source: British Medical Journal

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