By RQS Editorial Team

A recent study conducted by the Universtiy College London (UCL) found that students age 11 who are high achievers academically are more likely to get high as teenagers. The report was based on the academic achievements that were formed from the results of Key Stage 2 tests taken at this age. The national Key Stage 2 test focuses on cognition in maths, science and English.

The BMJ Open Journal[1] published the study, the first online peer-reviewed medical journal designed to provide open access to all research study types. It looked at the data of 6,059 young people from 838 state-funded and 52 fee-paying private schools in England, over a period of seven years. It suggests that high academic achievers 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 may incur than those with lower academic ability."

Information about academic achievements was correlated with the health behaviour of students and tracked through responses to questionnaires in early and late adolescence (13/13 to 16/17 and 18/19 to 19/20 respectively). Their use habits were categorised as occasional or persistent and early or late.

High academic achievers from age 11 were seen to be less likely to smoke tobacco during adolescence. But pupils who were more academically successful were also almost twice as likely to use cannabis persistently and 50% more likely to use it occasionally, as well as alcohol. The same patterns observed in teenagers appeared to be carried through to adulthood. “The outcomes of cannabis use were found to be worsened by early onset and an increased frequency of use."

survey study teenager smoking cannabis

Researchers believe that these results could be due to greater caution expressed in younger years about the health risks of tobacco - possibly passed down by parents, while the use of psychoactive substances are due to greater curious tendencies, although "these associations persist into early adulthood. This provides evidence against the hypothesis that high academic ability is associated with temporary 'experimentation' with substance use."

Although the study provides a huge sample size followed seven times over 7 years, data was of course not provided for the exact quantity of consumption of either alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. Neither were the KS2 data of 1.7% of the fee-paying school students provided. The study still offers us cornerstone research into the habits of intelligent young teenagers and the general habits of young people alike.

Especially for erudite children, this study could possibly suggest it might be a favorable idea to educate children on the health factors associated with cannabis, alcohol and tobacco. This way they will be more equipped to make better-informed decisions about what kind of choices they make in their teenage years.

Certainly choosing cannabis over tobacco is not a bad idea. Research suggests that using cannabis could even help in reducing the harm caused by smoking, especially if used correctly such as with a vaporizer or CBD oil. On the contrary, cannabis is proven to help reduce infection and the buildup of mucus with its anti-inflammatory properties. A brilliant alternative to smoking tobacco.

Let's hope that parents keep up the trend on educating clever kids about the health risks and dangers of smoking and drinking, so that the devastation caused by alcohol and tobacco could be reduced in the future. 

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This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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