Does drug use really increase depending on intelligence?

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The rise of psychoactive drugs in recent years raises a number of questions. Although we now manufacture more of these drugs chemically than were ever able before, there have always been a wide range of psychoactive drugs available in the world. From ayahuasca, marijuana and opium to mushrooms and more. There has always been a steady supply available of psychoactive drugs to people. Why then is the consumption increasing? If people are evolving over time and getting more increasingly intelligent why are more people choosing drugs?

The question of whether intelligence leads to increased drug usage has been tested. In the United Kingdom a study has indicated that children who show high IQ test scores also show a higher usage of psychoactive drugs in later years. Those who tested as very intelligent, with an IQ score of over 125 were found to be more likely to use psychoactive drugs compared to those who tested poorly, with a score of less than 75. 

However, a separate study in America found that once social and demographic variables are controlled for there was no significant findings that suggested there was a relationship between intelligence and drug use. This may suggest that the British study did not include enough controlled factors or that Americans and British are just different. Either way, one thing is for sure, drug use is going up and it is not clear why.

Availability is of course a key factor. The world has become a lot smaller and there is a prevalence of drugs in small towns and across the world that previously were unavailable. Society has changed dramatically as well. In the past there was a greater sense of community whereas today people feel much more isolated. This may mean that people don’t have the peer support (or judgement) to avoid taking drugs and may use drugs as a way to socialize in certain settings. Essentially people often feel freer to make decisions for themselves. Stress is also increasing in our society and it is possible that more people want to have a way to escape.

There is a clear issue with studies like those mentioned and making large statements about results. Correlation and causation. Of course, people are increasingly intelligent, as our learning methods have improved and we continue to evolve. Drug use has increased as well. It is likely then that there will be a correlation (meaning the two appear to increase at a similar rate), this does not mean causation as any range of factors could be contributing to the increase of both. While intelligence may be a contributor to the use of drugs we can not say for sure. It is far more likely that other factors play a much stronger role.