The studies of brain imaging in humans and neuropsychological studies in animals have shown that recurrent use of drugs causes disturbances in the brain’s highly developed frontal cortex, which controls and manages cognitive activities such as decision-making, response inhibition, organizing, planning, and memory. Drugs cannot treat mental illnesses. Rather, drugs work to regulate the troubling symptoms, often enabling people with mental disorders to come back to normal or near normal.
Addiction is a multiplex issue that has compounded influences, including intelligence. Many specialists have declared the connection between addiction and intelligence, trying to measure how they are related. The results of various studies have been astonishing as it concludes that intelligence has been more commonly interlinked to addiction, rather than low intelligence.
Early drug use may hinder brain maturation, contributing to long-lasting cognitive impairment of certain functions, and remarkably increasing short- and long-term vulnerability to developing a substance use disorder.
The continual use of drugs changes the brain over time in the following ways:
- Increased dopamine levels
All addictive drugs influence the brain pathways implying reward i.e., the dopamine system in the reward pathway.
- Decreased synapse activity
Drugs affect to enhance the activity of neurotransmitters and receptors within the synapses of the brain. Some neurotransmitters carry inhibitory messages across the synapses, while others carry excitatory messages.
- Brain connections are rewired
To tackle the problem over time, the brain builds a tolerance to the addictive substance. The brain adapts to the usual number of drugs it takes to become flooded with dopamine and glutamate, making you assume the experience is less pleasurable than it was.
Drugs that cause brain and body damage are:
Different regions of the brain are disrupted by drug abuse, and they are the brain stem, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. In addicts, the brain receptors become overwhelmed, and the brain responds by producing low levels of dopamine or by eliminating dopamine receptors.
Researchers who study addiction have struggled a lot to understand why this correlation exists. After all, why would intelligent people be more likely to turn to drugs? Most people understand the risks linked with drugs and many argue that intelligent people would be more likely to abstain from those risks. However, the evidence does not support that logical conclusion. Instead, a variety of hypotheses have been put forth to explain the paradoxical correlation. These hypotheses suggest that intelligent people who use drugs:
- Are easily bored and as a result, they look for new and novel things to push their mind.
- Need new challenges as success often comes easily to intelligent people and they may need to overcome new challenges regularly to feel a sense of personal progress.
- Try to fuel their creativity as intelligence and creativity are highly correlated and the myth that drugs help to fuel the creative genius has been spread for centuries.
The above-mentioned concerns are among the most popular explanations, yet there are a variety of more in-depth and well-studied theories that may better explain why intelligent people suffer from such an unfortunately high rate of addiction. There is a positive relationship between substance abuse and intelligence, but why does this relationship exist? To support this there are several different theories.
First, it could be a side effect of the conditions that give rise to a high IQ. You are more likely to have a high IQ if you grow up in a socioeconomically advantageous environment as there is less stress, better access to education, better healthcare, and other factors that contribute to the growth of intelligence. This kind of environment protects people from the side effects of drug use. People growing up in socioeconomically disadvantaged environments, however, cannot afford drug treatment, highly capable lawyers, or the funding their habit requires without resorting to unsavory activities, so they are very much exposed to the dangers of drug use far more frequently.
A lot of research was conducted to prove the use of drugs as a source of intelligence.
In 2011 a study was conducted on nearly 8,000 people and their IQ scores were measured at ages 5 and 10. Then, the study was followed up with these individuals at ages 16 and 30. Participants from this group with higher IQ scores were more likely to use cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, or a combination of these drugs. Women with IQ scores in the top third, for instance, were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis or cocaine by 30 than those in the bottom third. Men with high IQ were nearly twice as likely to have taken amphetamines and 65 percent more likely to have taken ecstasy compared with men who scored less.
Despite this, an intelligent person might look at their rich peers and see that their real-life experiences do not back up the anti-drug campaigns taught in schools, and, therefore, feel more comfortable taking these recreational drugs. This theory is supported by the fact that out of nearly all other drugs, individuals with higher IQs are less likely to smoke cigarettes. The downsides of cigarette smoking are so obvious that it is more reasonable for an influential person to avoid it than cannabis or ecstasy.
The same relationship exists for alcohol consumption. Even considering religion, social class, parental education, and satisfaction with life, intelligence is the second-greatest indicator of alcohol consumption, the first being gender.
Researchers have always been searching for ways to enhance their brainpower throughout history. Over time, several scientific efforts have discovered a few promising chemicals, but only modafinil has passed the strict tests of cognitive enhancement.
It is one of the oldest and most popular stimulants. People recognize the stimulant properties of caffeine thousands of years ago. It helps to boost alertness and attention; however, the effects are short-lived, and the body adapts to counter it quickly.
It is also a stimulant that is used for hundreds of years for a range of medicinal purposes. It is very addictive and has many dangerous side effects.
- Amphetamine (Benzedrine, Adderall)
These were first manufactured in 1887. Benzedrine was the first ever drug to treat hyperactive children. Amphetamine can enhance attention and memory by increasing the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, but the compound can be addictive and comes with a range of side effects, including hyperactivity, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, and even psychosis.
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
It was first advertised in 1954 and prescribed in the 1960s for treating hyperactivity. It became popular for ADHD in the 1990s. As with amphetamine, it can improve memory and focus for those with ADHD, but it is also used as an off-label drug as a study and work aid.
- Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor (Aricept)
It is approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease in the 1990s. Some studies show that it can enhance memory and attention in healthy individuals.
Modafinil was originally used to treat narcolepsy. It can also enhance cognitive functions especially when completing difficult tasks.
All drugs have potential long-term effects, and they vary depending on your substance of choice. This is especially true for younger users whose brains are not fully developed.