Heavy Drinkers Have Lower IQ Scores

Swedish researchers have established a link between excessive drinking and scoring poorly on intelligence exams.

Swedish researchers have established a link between excessive drinking and scoring poorly on intelligence exams, suggesting that people who make good life decisions also tend to moderate their drinking habits.


Researchers analyzed questionnaires given to 49,321 Swedish conscripts who served in the nation's armed forces from 1969 to 1970. The questionnaires asked individuals about their drinking habits and also contained an intelligence exam, measuring "a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience."

The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, also found that high intelligence levels during adolescence correlated inversely with alcohol consumption in middle age. Daniel Falkstedt, assistant professor of Public Heath Sciences, said that it was probably the low IQ that causes the higher alcohol consumption and not the other way around. 

"The authors seem to be able to explain a large part of the association between IQ and heavy drinking. I think this may be a main message of this large cohort study: poor performance on IQ tests tend to go along with other disadvantages, for instance, poorer social background and emotional problems, which may explain the association with risky alcohol consumption."

Garrett Oliver is the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, the author of The Brewmaster's Table, and an authority on the subject of traditional beer. During his Big Think interview, Oliver explains that teaching younger generations how to take a mature approach to alcohol helps prevent abuse later in life. That means integrating alcohol into a normal social life:

"Overeating is a disease. Beer essentially is food and people are going to abuse all sorts of food in different ways and whether this involves your eating this and that and growing to be 400 pounds and not being functional or it is an alcohol problem, all these things are going to be problems across the board society. ... I think that the Europeans have a better outlook on it, but they are by no means perfect."

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