Cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis are the common “light” drugs that most people venture to. Moreover, a growing number of under-aged people using these have specifically caught the attention of the researchers. Known to have aversive effects on people both physically and mentally, researchers wanted to examine and know further the relationship of these drugs on the teens’ academics.
They’ve utilized 6059 participants, ranking them academically through national test scores they took when they were 11 years old. Their use of the aforementioned substances were then regularly tracked from age 13 or 14 until age 19 or 20.
Results showed that, on one hand, pupils with the highest scores are less likely to smoke cigarettes during early adolescence than those pupils with lower test scores. They were also more likely to drink alcohol and to use cannabis (although slightly). On the other hand, results showed that these high-scoring pupils were more than twice as likely to drink alcohol but with a lesser tendency to binge-drink. They were also nearly twice as likely to use cannabis persistently with 50% to more likely use it occasionally compared to low-scoring pupils.
James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson, co-authors of the new study, tried to explain a potential reason for this: first, they said that "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… Cognitive ability is also associated with openness to new experiences and higher levels of boredom due to a lack of mental stimulation in school.”
The second possibility is that these clever teens may ingratiate themselves to be accepted by older people who "facilitate access to alcohol and cannabis," authors added. Lastly, drinking patterns may be related to "parental influence, since parents with high cognitive ability and socioeconomic status are known to drink alcohol more regularly."
The study also indicated that pupils with lower academic standing are likely to engage in hazardous drinking. Although authors have not focused much about it, Pat Aloise-Young, a psychologist and associate professor at Colorado State University believed it to be really important.
"From a public health perspective, hazardous drinking is more likely to result in negative consequences such as driving while intoxicated, alcohol-related crimes and injuries and unwanted sexual encounters," she said.
Although some people believe that these smart students simply have a tendency to experiment, results also showed that these patterns of substance use may still continue into adulthood.