Learn | 04.12.2024

How Can Weed Affect Relationships? The Good & The Bad

From bonding to bickering: Cannabis’s dual impact on relationships.

Exploring the impact of cannabis on relationships reveals a complex picture. 

Here, we explore how casual and chronic use can shape our connections, highlighting both the positive effects on social interactions and the risks associated with heavy use. 

Join us as we unpack the good, the bad, and the nuanced ways cannabis can influence the bonds we share with others.

Casual Cannabis Use And Relationships: The Potential Good

Many individuals who casually use cannabis report a range of positive effects, including:

Enhanced Social Bonding

Cannabis can foster a sense of unity and camaraderie, making social gatherings feel more connected and enjoyable.

Reduction in Social Anxiety

For some, cannabis use can alleviate feelings of social anxiety, making interactions smoother and more comfortable.

Increased Enjoyment of Social Activities

Cannabis can amplify the pleasure derived from various social activities, enriching the overall experience.

Recent research dives into the potential prosocial effects of recreational cannabis use, indicating that it might encourage behaviors that are beneficial to social interactions, particularly in those being treated for behavioral conduct disorders like serious aggression. 

Prosocial behaviors, characterized by actions intended to benefit others, play a large role in healthy relationships. These behaviors include sharing, helping, cooperating, and empathizing, all of which contribute to stronger, more supportive social bonds.

While there’s potential for cannabis to enhance prosocial behavior and, by extension, social relationships, mindful use is critical to make sure the positive effects can be experienced without neglecting possible negative ones. 

Chronic Cannabis Use And Relationships: The Potential Bad

While the occasional toke doesn’t typically spell trouble for relationships or mental well-being, diving deep into chronic cannabis use is another story. Here, the waters get murky, potentially clouding romantic, professional, and social connections.

Dr. Gabor Maté, a leading health expert in trauma and addiction, characterizes substance abuse as a scenario where individuals chase the pleasure and relief offered by a substance despite the consistent negative consequences they face. 

Chronic indulgence in cannabis, specifically, has been tied to a decline in mental wellness and social capabilities. This often manifests as having greater conflict, misunderstandings, acting without thinking, and trouble getting close to others. 

A Study On Cannabis, Conflict And Relationships Involving 145 Couples

Research indicates that frequent use can lead to more negative interactions, a tendency to dodge conflict, and a struggle to recover behaviorally post-conflict. In one study, 145 couples were recorded during a 10-minute discussion on a topic that typically brings them conflict. At least one person in the couple had frequently consumed cannabis. 

The findings told quite the story: the cannabis-using partner often misjudged the effectiveness of their communication during disputes.

Measurements of heart rate and breathing suggested that the cannabis user: 

  • Displayed limited flexibility in stress response
  • Adopted a more critical and demanding stance 
  • Avoided conflict 
  • Showed difficulty discussing positive aspects of the relationship when faced with negative ones

Despite these challenges, the cannabis-using partner frequently rated the conversation more positively than their non-using partner. According to the authors, these findings offer more insight than conclusions. Cannabis can’t be definitively beneficial or detrimental to relationships. Instead, the study sheds light on how couples might navigate conflicts more effectively and find resolutions.

Final Thoughts

Cannabis can have various effects on relationships, both positive and negative. Navigating cannabis use in relationships is a journey of balance.

While it can foster connection and empathy, mindful use is crucial to avoid the personal and relationship-related consequences of chronic consumption. 

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