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How Cannabis Affects Motivation and Reward Response – Healing Practice



A study refutes the cliché of the lazy smoker

According to a recent study, the popular notion of lazy and apathetic cannabis users doesn’t seem to apply. The brain’s response to rewards is also unaffected by cannabis use.

In the study involving experts from University of Cambridge examined whether cannabis use was associated with higher levels of apathy (loss of motivation) and anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure in rewards) or lower willingness to engage in effort physics to get rewards.

The results were published in the English-language journal “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology“published.

274 participants regularly used cannabis

Participation in the new survey 274 teenagers and adults participants who had used cannabis at least once a week in the past three months. On average, consumption was four days a week. Additionally, there was a control group of people who did not use cannabis.

Participants were asked to complete questionnaires to determine anhedonia to fill. In these they have become his reaction to certain statements interrogates.

In addition, a questionnaire was used to Measure of apathy A questionnaire that assessed characteristics such as interest in learning new things or willingness to complete a task.

What differences were found?

In terms of anhedonia, participants who used cannabis actually performed slightly worse than people in the control group, the researchers report. A connection between the Frequency of cannabis use however, anhedonia was not detectable and there was no significant difference from apathy.

We were surprised to see that there was really very little difference between cannabis users and non-consumers in terms of lack of motivation or lack of pleasure, even among those who used cannabis on a daily basis.‘ reports the author of the study Martine Skumlien in a Press release.

Does Cannabis Harm Teens More Than Adults?

When it comes to cannabis use, it is often feared that its use has a greater negative impact on adolescents than on adults.

However, our study, one of the first to directly compare adolescent and adult cannabis users, suggests that adolescents are no more vulnerable than adults to the deleterious effects of cannabis on motivation, pleasure, or brain response. to the reward.“, says the author of the study doctor Does the lawn.

Cannabis appears to have no or at most a weak association with these factors. “However, we need studies that examine these associations over a long period of time to confirm the results.“, adds the doctor.

How does cannabis affect physical exertion?

Just over half of participants who used cannabis also performed various behavioral tasks. In the first of these tasks, the physical exertion assessed.

Participants had the opportunity to press buttons Earn points, which later against chocolate or candies could be exchanged. There were three different difficulty levels with three tiers of rewards available.

More difficult attempts required one faster pressure buttons. Before the experiment, the participants had to decide whether they wanted to participate or not. Points were only awarded for successful attempts.

How was Friends of Rewards determined?

In a second task, we measured how many Friends who had participants in their rewards. They were first asked to use a scale to indicate how much they wanted each of three rewards (30 seconds of their favorite song, a piece of chocolate or candy and a £1 coin).

After evaluation, participants received each of the rewards in turn and had to choose one. assess the scaleHow? ‘Or’ What make them happy the rewards found.

The researchers were able to distinguish between the test group and the control group and between adolescents and adults for both the physical exertion task and the pleasure task. no differences determine. According to the team, this confirms the results of other studies, in which there were no or only very small differences.

Cannabis does not affect motivation

Overall, the results indicate that people who use cannabis are no more likely to unmotivated or lazy are that people who are not. The image of the lazy stoner is therefore inappropriate.

Unfair assumptions can be stigmatizing and could undermine harm reduction messages. We need to be honest and open about what the harmful effects of drug use are and are not.“, has explained foam.

The team released one earlier this year studyin which with the help of the so-called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the brain activity same attendees.

During this time, they were asked to complete a task to measure their processing of rewards, with financial rewards. Researchers have studied how the brain responds to rewardsfocusing in particular on what is called ventral striatum -a key region of the brain’s reward system.

However, experts could not identify any link between activity in this region and cannabis use. The reward system of cannabis consumers therefore does not seem to be altered in this study either.

Our results indicate that cannabis use does not appear to have an effect on motivation. Participants in our study included users who used cannabis an average of four days a week and were no more likely to lack motivation‘, summarizes the author of the study Professor Barbara Sahakian.

Nevertheless, according to the doctor, it cannot be excluded that a higher consumption, as is the case with some people with Cannabis use disorder is present, can certainly have an influence.

Until we have studies that follow adolescent users from onset through early adulthood that combine measures of motivation and brain imaging, we cannot say for sure that regular cannabis use has no negative impact on motivation and brain development.“, abstract Professor Sahakyan together. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


  • Martine Skumlien, Claire Mokrysz, Tom P Freeman, Vincent Valton, Matthew B Wall, et al. : Anhedonia, Apathy, Pleasure, and Effort-Based Decision-Making in Adult and Adolescent Cannabis Users and Controls; in: International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (published 08/24/2022), International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • University of Cambridge: Cannabis users are no less likely to be motivated or able to enjoy life’s pleasures (published 01/09/2022), University of Cambridge
  • Claire Mokrysz, Tom P Freeman, Matthew B Wall, Michael Bloomfield, Rachel Lees, et al. : Neural Responses to Reward Anticipation and Feedback in Adult and Adolescent Cannabis Consumers and Controls; in: Neuropsychopharmacology (published on 2022-04-06), Neuropsychopharmacology

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.

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