Health and Medicine

Drug users vs. drug abusers

Drugs are bad mmk? Well, are they? The go-to argument involves looking at drug abusers. It’s hard to say something positive about drug abuse in general. Everybody has a story to tell about some friend or family member who got into problems. But we also have people who are food abusers, i.e., who eat too much and suffer the consequences. One can also eat too little food and get into problems. Based on this analogy, then, we might question the idea that drugs are bad overall. Maybe a moderate amount of drug use is better. What does the data show? Of course, no one randomized people to take a given amount of drugs in their lives and looked at what happened, but we can look at the other phenotypes of people who never take a drug, take it sometimes, or all the time. There’s a bunch of studies that have done for various drugs. Let’s begin with a nice one:

Purpose High childhood IQ test scores have been associated with increased alcohol dependency and use in adult life, but the relationship between childhood IQ and illegal drug use in later life is unclear.
Methods Participants were 6713 members of the 1958 National Child Development Survey whose IQ was assessed at 11 years and had their lifetime illegal drug use measured at 42 years of age.
Results In analyses adjusted for a range of covariates, a 1 SD (15-point) increase in IQ scores was associated with an increased risk of illegal drug use in women: ever using cannabis (odds ratio [OR], 1.30; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.16–1.45), cocaine (OR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.21–2.27), amphetamines (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.22–1.83), amyl nitrate (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.30–2.46) and “magic mushrooms” (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.18–1.98). Associations were of lower magnitude in men.
Conclusions In this cohort, high childhood IQ was related to illegal drug use in adulthood.

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