Science Says Clever People Are More Likely To Drink Alcohol, So Cheers To That

by Alexandra Strickler

This one goes out to everybody who peaked during childhood, and anyone whose parents regularly look at them, sigh and ask, "Where did I go wrong with you?"

Go ahead and tell them there's nothing wrong with you because a new study has shown students who scored highest on tests in childhood are more likely to drink alcohol and smoke weed later in life.

The study, which was published this week in the British Medical Journal Open, included a sample of over 6,000 young people in England. The findings showed that high test scores at age 11 are linked to an increased likelihood of regular drinking and cannabis use.

Interestingly, though the British teens in the study were more likely to drink and smoke pot, they were also less likely to smoke cigarettes.

At first glance, this research might make you think the more clever students are simply more willing to temporarily experiment than others.

However, study authors James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson say these patterns of substance use may continue as young adolescents grow into full-blown adults.

According to Indy100, they said,

These associations persist into early adulthood, providing evidence against the hypothesis that high academic ability is associated with temporary 'experimentation' with substance abuse.

The authors also say the study answers, for the first time, whether ability is associated with "experimentation" in early adolescence, or if the association persists into later adolescence.

In the study, students from public and private schools across England were given questionnaires, which regularly tracked each individual's use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana from age 13 or 14 until age 19 or 20. To rank students academically, Williams and Hagger-Johnson used national test scores taken at age 11.

During their early teens, high-scoring students were less likely to smoke cigarettes and more likely to drink alcohol than their peers with lower test scores. They were also slightly more likely to say they used cannabis.

As they entered their late teen years, clever students were more than twice as likely to regularly drink alcohol, yet they also showed less of a tendency to binge-drink.

During this same period in their lives, the students with higher scores were nearly twice as likely to use cannabis persistently and 50 percent more likely to use it occasionally, compared to their peers with lower test scores.

The study authors offered a potential explanation for this particular trend:

Higher-ability adolescents are more open to try cannabis but are initially cautious of illegal substances in early adolescence as they are more aware of the immediate and long-term repercussions that breaking the law might incur.

So, the next time your parents give you a hard time when they catch you with a beer or a blunt in your hand (or both, if you're ambitious), make sure you throw this article in their faces and tell them to suck it.

Citations: LSYPE : Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (Department for Education), Clever people are more likely to smoke weed and drink (Indy100), Top students more likely to smoke pot, drink alcohol, study says (WTKR News 3)