According to a new study published Wednesday, February 22nd in the online issue of the British Medical Journal Open, top students are more inclined to abuse alcohol on a weekly basis, at least, and smoke marijuana regularly. Study’s co-authors, Gareth Hagger-Johnson and James Williams suspect that smart people simply have a tendency to experiment. However, the researchers noted, such behaviors may continue into adulthood and even pick up in intensity. Hence, the new findings debunk previous theories that suggested substance abuse during teenage years declines as the subjects grow older.
The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Top Students
Studies conducted in the decade ending 2014 showed that more underage individuals were renouncing their vices such as cigarette smoking and binge-drinking. As opposed to data collected in 2004, only 4 percent of 14-year-olds surveyed admitted to cigarette smoking on a daily basis, as opposed to 14 percent previously recorded, 6 percent of British teens said they drank alcohol at least once a week, as opposed to 23 percent in 2004, and 9 percent underaged students tried cannabis, as opposed to the previously recorded 17 percent of surveyed youngsters.
Studying the behavior of top students from the age of 13 until the age of 20, the researchers saw high-ranking students are less likely to smoke cigarettes yet more inclined to binge drinking and marijuana use, as opposed to their peers who scored lower on tests.
For this, Hagger-Johnson and Williams came up with several theories. One suggests that top students are initially cautious of the use of illegal substances as they are more aware of both the immediate as well as the long-term repercussions breaking the law incurs. However, because of the lack of mental stimulation in school, given their advanced cognitive ability, they are more likely to experiment with said substances out of boredom.
Another explanation as to why top students tend to engage in binge-drinking and substance abuse is because of their social desire to be on par with older peers, who facilitate access to cannabis and alcohol, so they ingratiate themselves. Ultimately, highly intelligent students could take up drinking because of parental influence, since parents with socioeconomic status and high cognitive ability are more prone to consuming alcohol on a regular basis themselves, noted the researchers.
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