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Does IQ Play a Role in Substance Use?

The Surprising Relationship Between Intelligence and Addiction

Many wrongly assume that people with higher IQs are less likely to develop substance use disorders. After all, they should be able to see the risks and potential consequences of drug and alcohol consumption more clearly, right?

Wrong. It turns out that people with higher IQs may be more likely to develop addiction problems. In fact, researchers have concluded that those who tend to be some of the smartest in the room often have an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. Why? Here are a few theories to consider.

Intelligence and Risk

One common belief is that people with higher IQs tend to be more impulsive and less able to control their urges. They may also be more likely to take risks, including drug and alcohol use. They also often have a higher understanding of potentially harmful outcomes but can justify the behavior at an intellectual level. Simply put, they're better at talking themselves into substance use instead of avoiding it.

Avoidance and Coping

Another theory is that people with higher IQs may have difficulty coping with boredom or stress. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with these negative feelings. In this instance, dealing with other social pressures associated—like getting better grades in college or engaging in a high-stress career—might also be contributing factors.

Social Factors

Those with a higher intelligence level might also have a bigger social circle. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does increase the chances of being exposed to drugs and alcohol in a recreational setting.

Wrap Up: Intelligence and Substance Use

It's important to note that these are just theories. The link between intelligence and addiction is still under research, and more data is needed to understand the connection.

However, if you or someone you know has a high IQ and struggles with addiction, it's important to seek professional help. Addiction treatment can be very successful, no matter your IQ. Please contact us at Tennessee Wellness Center by calling (865) 205-2770.