It made perfect sense when I read the article, and it was one of those things I knew, but I didn’t have any foundation to lobby the claim until now. A new British study showed that children who possess high IQ’s are more likely to experiment with illegal narcotics, and the results are astonishing. Male children are more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs before the age of thirty, as compared to their lower-scoring counterparts, whereas female children are three times as likely! That’s insane, but actually makes a lot of sense.
But, before I continue with why it makes sense to me, let me deal out some more information from the study.
The data that supports this study comes from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has been following thousands of people for decades. The subjects were were IQ tested at the ages of 6, 10, and 16, and were also asked about drug use, education, living situations, employment, and varying other socioeconomic factors. An astounding 64% of men asked about drug experimentation verified that they had, in fact, used illegal narcotics at some point over their lives.
A high IQ is defined as being between 107 and 158. An average IQ is defined as 100.
So, here’s what I take from this. Despite all of the negative attention toward illegal narcotics in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the attempts made by parents, teachers, lobbyists, and partnership groups — including D.A.R.E. and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America — were a failure, much in the way the War on Drugs is a failure. Here’s the thing about drugs, they’re appealing, but not necessarily for the exact same reasons the aforementioned groups of people would have you think they were.
Over the course of my life, I have had the privilege to know many people who themselves experimented. Some of them have been able to walk away from it with their experiences, while others have fallen victim to addiction. One thing, however, remains the same with these people. There is a romanticism with narcotics. Sure, they can be abused — like anything else can — but for the most part, it’s the perception-altering effects of narcotics that are appealing. It’s not because people who are socially-awkward want to be cool or are forced into it via circumstance (I’m not saying these don’t happen, but I’m speaking as a generalization), it’s the appeal of stepping into a new frontier, giving yourself a new experience, that makes the idea of experimenting with illegal narcotics appealing.
In the 1960’s, marijuana and LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) were arguably the most popular drugs throughout the counter-culture movement. Many people involved in all aspects of the radical social changes of the decade were known to have used these narcotics. Both marijuana and LSD are “psychedelic” in nature, meaning they alter the ability of the user to perceive the world around them traditionally. With the senses altered, people under the influence of marijuana and LSD report that things move more slowly and gracefully, sounds are clearer, colors are more vibrant, and smells are more powerful, among other sensory perceptions. LSD has been known to take those perceptions a little further, allowing the user to see colors bleed into each other and even have spiritual experiences.
While our societies fears lie in the “negative effects” of drugs, and were cemented by the violence that surrounded narcotics like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, the truth of the matter is that it isn’t the drugs themselves that showcase most of the general fear and stigma attached to them. It’s no lie that cocaine and heroin are the “classical” narcotics when it comes to organized crime and escalating violence. Methamphetamine and ecstasy have tread those waters as well. The drugs themselves — their specific compounds — aren’t really any more dangerous than substances that are legal, such as cigarettes and alcohol and, hell, even aspirin.
The findings of this study, while preliminary, are an incredible piece of evidence to support the dismantling of drug prohibition.
Finally, think of it this way. Think of our artists, the people who make music, create films and photography, paint, sculpt, and whatnot. Studies have determined that many artists wield high IQ’s, since the process of creating art is very complicated and requires a bit of “madness” (for example, musical composition and the understanding of music theory requires advanced algebra). We also know that, both historically and currently, a vast majority of our artists use illegal narcotics. See the connection?