Addiction And Intelligence

My last post was written in a fit of rage at four in the morning after someone had so very ignorantly told me that “smart people are not dumb enough to let themselves become addicts”. In my blog post I had said that I didn’t think that the addicted population tended to be any smarter, dumber, moral, or immoral than the rest of the population as a whole. That we were probably representative percentage-wise of the rest of the world.

Later that day, after I posted, as I sat steaming, I got to thinking. See, I had already googled “geniuses who struggled with addiction” and came up with a staggering number of names. Who knew that the father of modern surgery, Dr. William Halsted, was an addict? I started to think about how my brain is going 24/7, how I cannot shut it up, how I overthink everything. When I was on the run with multiple (and by multiple I mean four) warrants how I would wake up stressed, non-stop stressing and agonizing about my warrants and impending doom. Getting high was the only way that I knew how to relax and not over, over-think my problems.

As usual, my mind started to over-think this story, this issue. I was remembering how, when I didn’t have better coping skills that I have since developed, how I routinely used drugs to numb my brain slightly. More importantly, I remember the first time I used heroin, and all drugs really. I worked so hard in school, studied non-stop, I needed a break. You know what they say, “work hard, party hard”. I would do E on the weekends, coke at the parties, weed during the week. It just gave me an escape. My GPA never dropped below 4.6, I got a academic scholarship to a few schools, but went to University of Maryland College Park as an honors student. Drugs were a release, but they never inhibited my life, school work, social relationships, anything. So when heroin was offered to me as a way to come down off of coke, I was initially hesitant, but wanted to try something new. I needed to come down, I had been doing coke for two days and had to come down to do school work. I said “fuck it”. 

I also started to remember that in college, lots of the lab kids, who worked 20 hours straight, used drugs, especially uppers. Combining my drug usage, with what I remembered from the hard working kids in college, and my google search of “geniuses that struggled with addiction”, I decided to google a hunch. I looked up “intelligence and addiction”. What I found, confirmed what I had been thinking all along. I found numerous studies that showed a direct correlation between higher intelligence and drug use. Studies showed that individuals with an IQ above 125, or what is considered very bright, were far more likely to have tried or used drugs than those with an IQ below 85, or what is considered very dull. Actually, the studies showed that the higher the IQ, the more likely the person was to have tried drugs.

Obviously, I felt a personal  sense of triumph and vindication. More than that, I felt a certain amount of vindication for all addicts. The person who made the original rude comment, eventually turned the argument around into, “addicts have no one to blame but themselves”. This is a point irrelevant as to the argument if addicts are stupid or immoral. Of course we only have ourselves to blame. I don’t think any of us has denied where the fault lies with respect to our personal addiction. The thing is that once I presented facts that disproved his logic of “addicts are much dumber than the rest of us” he resorted to what basically amounted to name-calling. Now it was “you only have yourself to blame”. I should note that he did the typical passive aggressive tactics of “addicts are dumb,” “I am not dumb enough to stick a needle in my arm”, etc. You know, making blatant references to me and my husband without saying that he is talking about members of his family.

So yes, it is my own fault that I am addict. It is also my own triumph that I am clean now as well. It is any addicts own actions that have made them that way, as it is any person’s own action that make them the person that they are. I can now, at least, with some amount of authority tell you if you are an addict that lack of intelligence is not to blame for your struggles with addiction.


One thought on “Addiction And Intelligence

  1. It was interesting being the only prostitute out on the street who had two college degrees… when I was in active addiction, that’s where chasing the bag ended me up. Thanks for the post, appreciate the insights!


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