Is it a common belief or is there really some truth to it that marijuana use reduces personal motivation? This is one of those long-running debates on which neither marijuana advocates nor critics have yet managed to agree.
It seems to be one of those many conflicts around the use of cannabis in which the best option is not to be too radical with respect to either of the two positions because, according to the scarce scientific data that exist in this regard, both could be in the wrong. true and both could be wrong. Let’s see why below, regardless of the marijuana strain chosen.
Marijuana use and chronic laziness
Associating cannabis use to issues such as inattention, loss of personal motivation or what we popularly know as being money It is a stigma that the marijuana grower and smoker will hardly get rid of. To be a bit fair with this issue, it is also true that from many fronts of cannabis culture it is not that a great effort has been made precisely to avoid these clichés but rather the opposite: that image of the buzzed and lazy stoner has been promoted. who seems to have lost interest in anything an inch beyond his marijuana joint. But on a clinical level, is there any evidence that this is so?
The first studies on the relationship between marijuana and personal motivation date back to the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, where the detractors of this plant were determined to turn its consumption into a social problem. Coinciding with one of the golden ages of American cannabis, in the midst of the hippy movement, studies became fashionable (perhaps without the expected scientific rigor) about the effect of cannabis on the ability to achieve success, the search for motivation or the skills to socialize outside the usual circles.
This is how the concepts of demotivation syndrome Y chronic laziness, both associated with the symptoms previously described and linked, according to experts, to cannabis use. Apathy, difficulties to fit into new social environments, lack of desire to work or inability to face new challenges in life were raised by experts as some of the main consequences of consuming cannabis and socially accepted without much contrast.
The main problem with these early studies of the 1970s was that, apart from having been developed in an environment quite conditioned by social opinionThey were made without a sufficiently large and varied sample to allow obtaining real evidence to support the theories. For this reason, decades later, this type of approach has begun to be dismantled with another type of somewhat more elaborate analysis.
What do the most modern studies say?
It would take a few decades for the question of marijuana and personal motivation to re-interest researchers. It would not be until the mid-90s when the subject would once again acquire some relevance in the scientific field and with the appearance of new studies in this field.
Modern studies have focused primarily on adolescents and young adults, men and women, already initiated into chronic cannabis use. This selection is due in part to the fact that neurobiologists know that brain development continues beyond puberty and does not slow down at this stage, as was originally believed, but continues through part of adulthood. All in all, this is a crucial moment in the refinement of the brain and in its maturation and it is here when the frontal cortex learns to handle a large part of the emotions.
Tetrahydrocarbocannabinol (THC) has a certain impact on the different processes that take place in this part of the brain: learning, memory, motor functions, attention … The effects are more noticeable and intense in the short term but apparently they could also continue to affect functions cognitive functions of these early smokers even when they have already given up their marijuana habits. Some follow-up studies have shown that decline in intellectual abilities (speed of reasoning, memory or visual analysis ability) of young people who start smoking marijuana before the age of 16 do not recover over time.
In this sense, it seems to be true that the consumption of cannabis as something habitual and in large quantities could be counterproductive, especially at very early ages in which the brain has not yet reached the maturity it needs to complete the cognitive connections that it needs. allow you to work at full capacity. But even within this scope the case of motivation could be analyzed as something more specific.
The results are still somewhat conflicting
Despite the data from the most current studies, finding a direct link between cannabis and loss of motivation is even more difficult. For some researchers, the problem of lack of motivation is not associated with the use of marijuana but with psychological problems (for example, depression) previously existing in the person who uses this type of substance as a form of evasion.
For others, however, there could be some kind of relationship between the two issues. One of the most recent analyzes, published by the Imperial College of London in the magazine Biological Psychiatry ensures that chronic marijuana use ends up blocking dopamine production in the brain, a chemical closely related to the motivation that people feel and that allows them to establish a criterion between what gives them pleasure and stimulates them and what is not attractive to them.
Thus, the same chemical that initially causes addiction to a certain substance is the one that finally, in its absence, would end up making the subject apathetic in the face of reality. A controversial issue on which, as has been shown, there are many opinions.