Correlation Between Intelligence, Drug Abuse, And Psychological Problems


Drug addiction is also known as substance use disorder. In this disorder, a person’s brain and behavior are affected which leads to legal and illegal abuse of drugs. Drug addiction usually starts with its use as a recreational drug and then it becomes frequent. Sometimes receiving self-medication or exposure to prescribed medicines can also contribute to drug addiction such as opioid pain killers. Alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are also classified as drugs.

Drugs that affect brain activities are:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • Steroids
  • Tobacco

Significant signs that show you are addicted are as follows:

  1. You use drugs daily or several times a day.
  2. Having an intense desire for drugs.
  3. With time you demand more drugs.
  4. You start intake of drugs in a larger amount.
  5. You make sure you have a sufficient supply of drugs.
  6. You spend all your money on buying drugs.
  7. You start neglecting your friends, family, and work and avoid participating in social activities.
  8. Driving risky, stealing, and other improper activities under the influence of drugs.
  9. You fail in attempting to withdraw from drugs.
  10. Doing things, you normally don’t do.

The disadvantages of drug abuse are so hazardous and obvious that one would think why intellectual people would use them, rather they should stay away from them. But the relationship found between intelligence and drugs is against this understanding. The relationship between drugs and highly intelligent people is counter-intuitive. Various studies have listed the relationship between intelligence and drug abuse. Drugs cause damage to health, costs a huge amount of money, and bear high legal consequences but surprisingly intelligence and substance abuse have a positive relationship. Intelligent individuals are more likely to use drugs rather than people with low levels of IQ.

The question that arises in our minds is “Why this positive relationship exists between intelligence and drug addiction”?

Drugs are attractive to intelligent people especially to bright and outstanding teenagers because for the following reasons:

  • Novelty

Intelligent people think of themselves as extraordinary and unusual. They think others are inferior to them, so they avoid them. In this way, novelty leads them to drug abuse to have a narrow escape.

  • Isolation

Intelligent people go through a lot of psychological problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression and they also face problems with socialization. So, to overcome these issues they tend to isolate themselves, which works as a self-medication technique for them.

  • Boredom

Smart people sometimes find it hard to fit into the environment as they can easily analyze people and situations. In this way, they get bored with their surroundings and are attracted to drugs.

  • Need for space

Intelligent people overthink and are not able to make steady decisions or conclude situations. To bring their thoughts to the same wavelength, they use drugs.

male drug addict

Studies based on brain imaging of humans show that consistent use of drugs can disrupt the frontal cortex of the human brain, which plays a vital role in recognizing and regulating cognitive abilities such as planning, decision making, sorting memories, and response inhibition. Drugs that cause cognitive problems are:

  • Psychoactive drugs, anti-depressants, and anti-convulsants cause dementia and delirium.
  • Non-Psychoactive drugs e.g., histamine H2 receptor antagonists, corticosteroids,  nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and cardiac medications can also cause chronic cognitive dysfunction.

Drugs such as anti-depressants,  anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills, and anti-convulsants can cause mental confusion. Drugs can also affect memory because drugs lower the blood level of cholesterol which can easily impair memory and learning ability. Drugs affect learning by impairing the cognitive abilities of humans.

Intelligent people experience many psychological problems. Some of them are listed below:

  • The brain of intelligent people remains hyperactive so do their bodies, so working at a steady pace becomes difficult for them, which leads to many physical health problems.
  • They think out of the box, so their ideas and creativity are not understood by common people which causes despair and eventually results in stress and depression.
  • Minds of smart people work faster than others and it remains in hyperactivity form so getting relaxed becomes a challenge for them.
  • Since they know more than others so most of the time they feel like a misfit in the class of average people and their notion of knowing everything, sometimes, puts them into a situation where they miss smaller details or basic things.
  • Intelligent people are more logical and problem solvers so sometimes they find difficulty in emotional connection in their relationships.
  • Failure strikes smart people more badly than average people. When they fail to solve any problem or didn’t get the expected results, they take it as a challenge thus creating stress for themselves.
  • Their mind remains always occupied to be on top and to perform best, which leads to anxiety and sometimes inability to relax and enjoy their free mind.
  • Intelligent people are smarter and want perfection in their work which sometimes causes OCD.
  • They prefer to be alone because they have a higher level of cognitive functioning, they think on a different level, and common people cannot connect to that level, so the conversation or activity doesn’t appeal to them much and they go to their shell, but at the same time, they love to have long discussions and enjoy the company of like-minded people.
  • Their risk-taking and recklessness make them vulnerable to getting into drugs.

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Written by: Tahira Rubab Hafeez

2 thoughts on “Correlation Between Intelligence, Drug Abuse, And Psychological Problems

  1. Everything I just read, It exactly my behavior. Someone did an excellent research on this project. I do have difficulty on simple things even spelling simple words. However my past experiences shows,I have no problem going one on one on most situations. Which I have been involved in. Especially defending a coworkers. In my 26 years of employment never lost defending anyone.

    1. May you stay blessed. I’m trying my best to raise awareness and help individuals. Help me in this journey by joining the cause. Spread the message by letting intellectuals know that they are not alone.

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