Marijuana use today is getting really popular; 18 out of the 50 states (and DC) of the United States have approved the use of cannabis as a recreational and prescriptive drug. Canada, the Netherlands, and the infamous Caribbean island of Jamaica see nothing wrong with its use. How does the use of cannabis affect you? Or specifically, how does it affect your emotions? A new review article says marijuana use may lower your emotional intelligence.
Related media: Is Marijuana Bad For Your Brain?
Marijuana Versus EQ
The review article that appeared in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, suggests that the use of chronic marijuana may cause deficiencies in the ability to recognize emotional states (both in yourself and others). This ability is what psychologists refer to as emotional intelligence.
According to the report by the study led by authors Alyssa MacKenzie and Anita Cservenka from Oregon State University, adult population use of cannabis has increased significantly from 10.4 percent to 15 percent from 2002 to 2017.
“These increases are concerning as a large body of research has reported that cannabis use may have negative impacts on cognitive functioning, learning and memory, processing speed, and attention,” the researchers continue.
Marijuana Against Your EQ
Furthermore, the researchers reviewed several studies exploring the link between cannabis use and emotion processing (there were 41 studies in total published within the last five years). They found a correlation between cannabis use and users’ emotions. Typical among these were users showing a lack of responsiveness to emotional stimuli.
Others include cannabis users having a slow response time when they identified and differentiate emotional states, such as being happy, sad, angry, or even stressed. They showed a decreased neural activity when they were exposed to certain emotional effects. And when their brain was scanned with a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine, there was a weakened activity in the prefrontal cortex (that’s responsible for expression and social behavior), and medial prefrontal cortex (responsible for inhibitory control and habit formation).
From their findings, there was evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — the two sub-components of cannabis — can influence emotion processing in different ways. For instance, one study found that anxiety tends to increase with THC use, whereas CBD tends to decrease it. Huh?
The Future Of Cannabis Use
“To our knowledge, this is one of the first critical review articles focused on an emerging research area of cannabis and emotion processing,” the researchers stated. “Synthesizing the existing findings in this developing research field is important for future prevention and intervention studies focused on promoting healthy socio-emotional functioning in cannabis users.”
The research clearly shows how regular marijuana use affects emotional intelligence — if think otherwise. The science is irrefutable. Regular stoners run the risk of weakening their interpersonal relationships. And according to the researchers, this could lead people to use more cannabis as a means to cope with interpersonal problems. This might be an unending challenge between cannabis use and emotional disorders. However, there’s still much to be learned. So stay tuned.
“Overall, more research on individual differences is needed to determine the effects of sex, polysubstance use, and comorbid psychiatric disorders on socio-emotional functioning,” the researchers wrote, “and studies should also expand to middle-aged and older adult cannabis users, as the majority of currently published research is limited to adolescents and young adults.”
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, May 31, 2022.