Cannabis Use is Not Associated With Increased Apathy.


by Therin Miller | September 8, 2022


Recent research published on August 24 in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology reveals that cannabis usage in adults and adolescents is not related to greater apathy, effort-based decision-making for reward, reward desiring, or reward liking. Non-cannabis users exhibited greater anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, according to the tiny study.


The researchers from UCL, Cambridge, and King's College London examined data from the CannTeen study. Participants are 274 adults (26- to 29-year-old) and teenage (16-17) cannabis consumers who used cannabis one to seven days per week in the previous three months.


Participants completed questionnaires to assess anhedonia, which asked them to rate statements like "I would enjoy being with family or close friends," as well as questionnaires for evaluating apathy, which asked them to rate characteristics like how interested they were in learning new things or how likely they were to finish a job.


Cannabis users scored somewhat lower on anhedonia than non-users, indicating that they were more able to enjoy themselves. Still, there was no significant difference in apathy. The researchers also discovered no relationship between the frequency of cannabis use and either apathy or anhedonia in cannabis users.


Martine Skumlien, lead author and Ph.D. candidate at UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and the University of Cambridge, stated that the survey findings were "contrary to the stereotyped representation we see on TV and in movies."


Dr. Will Lawn of UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and King's College London, one of the study's co-authors, described the study as "one of the first to directly compare adolescents and adults who use cannabis," and it "suggests that adolescents are no more vulnerable than adults to the harmful effects of cannabis on motivation, pleasant experience, or the brain's response to reward."


"There has been much worry that cannabis usage throughout adolescence may result in poorer results than cannabis use during maturity," he said in a statement. "In fact, it appears that cannabis has no - or rather modest - correlations with these outcomes in general." However, we need long-term studies that check for these correlations to corroborate these findings."


"We're so used to seeing 'lazy stoners' on our screens that we don't think to question if they're a fair portrayal of cannabis users." "Our research suggests that this is a lazy stereotype in and of itself and that people who use marijuana are no more likely to lack motivation or be lazier than people who don't," Skumlien said in a statement. "Unfair assumptions can be stigmatizing and obstruct messages about harm reduction." We must be open and honest about what are and are not the negative repercussions of drug usage."

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