Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Front Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 24;5:70. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00070. eCollection 2014.

Disentangling the Correlates of Drug Use in a Clinic and Community Sample: A Regression Analysis of the Associations between Drug Use, Years-of-School, Impulsivity, IQ, Working Memory, and Psychiatric Symptoms.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Boston College , Chestnut Hill, MA , USA.
Department of Psychology, Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Concordia University , Montreal, QC , Canada.
Prime, Buchholz & Associates, Inc. , Portsmouth, NH , USA.


Years-of-school is negatively correlated with illicit drug use. However, educational attainment is positively correlated with IQ and negatively correlated with impulsivity, two traits that are also correlated with drug use. Thus, the negative correlation between education and drug use may reflect the correlates of schooling, not schooling itself. To help disentangle these relations we obtained measures of working memory, simple memory, IQ, disposition (impulsivity and psychiatric status), years-of-school and frequency of illicit and licit drug use in methadone clinic and community drug users. We found strong zero-order correlations between all measures, including IQ, impulsivity, years-of-school, psychiatric symptoms, and drug use. However, multiple regression analyses revealed a different picture. The significant predictors of illicit drug use were gender, involvement in a methadone clinic, and years-of-school. That is, psychiatric symptoms, impulsivity, cognition, and IQ no longer predicted illicit drug use in the multiple regression analyses. Moreover, high risk subjects (low IQ and/or high impulsivity) who spent 14 or more years in school used stimulants and opiates less than did low risk subjects who had spent <14 years in school. Smoking and drinking had a different correlational structure. IQ and years-of-school predicted whether someone ever became a smoker, whereas impulsivity predicted the frequency of drinking bouts, but years-of-school did not. Many subjects reported no use of one or more drugs, resulting in a large number of "zeroes" in the data sets. Cragg's Double-Hurdle regression method proved the best approach for dealing with this problem. To our knowledge, this is the first report to show that years-of-school predicts lower levels of illicit drug use after controlling for IQ and impulsivity. This paper also highlights the advantages of Double-Hurdle regression methods for analyzing the correlates of drug use in community samples.


Cragg’s Double-Hurdle regression; IQ; drug use; educational attainment; impulsivity; methadone clinic; non-treatment drug users; working memory

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center