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Answering the age-old question, does weed really make people less motivated? Let's see what the research says.
How did the lazy stoner stereotype begin? And is there any reliable evidence that shows how cannabis users tend to be lazy?
Some would argue this notion came to life under both the Nixon and Reagan governments, which amplified the idea of what’s called “cannabis amotivational syndrome.”
This hypothesis has long been researched in the scientific community. Still, all studies not only ask for “further research,” but the evidence is never cohesive. It doesn’t clearly conclude that cannabis makes people lazy or that cannabis doesn’t make people lazy.
We could tell you from experience that cannabis does not make people less motivated. My personal use of cannabis motivates me to get the job done and add a little fun to daily tasks like dishes, laundry, etc.
For others, cannabis does the opposite. It can send people into a state of deep relaxation where they don’t want to move from the couch. But that doesn’t mean cannabis users are less motivated; they’re just relaxing after a toke.
Today, we’re looking at the broader scheme of things. We have two studies from reputable sources that thoroughly explain if cannabis makes people less motivated and why.
One new study had some interesting findings. It’s titled “Effort-related decision making and cannabis use among college students” and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
Funny enough, the researchers didn’t find reliable evidence supporting the cannabis amotivational syndrome theory.
To put this idea to the test, the team gathered and observed 47 participants who were attending college; some used cannabis frequently, and others didn’t.
Twenty-five participants, over half of the group, were placed into the “regular cannabis consumer” category. Inside this classification, 68% were said to fall in line with “cannabis use disorder.”
The other 22 participants were placed into the “non-cannabis control group” category. The study defined the term “cannabis use disorder” as a “problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”
While there were no actual guidelines stating how much cannabis could cause a use disorder, the term is used as a general statement describing when cannabis affects an individual’s daily tasks, school, work, and other actions.
In order to see if symptoms of cannabis use disorder and amotivational syndrome were present in the participants, the study had them complete an Effort Expenditure for Reward Task, which was then analyzed for results.
Interestingly, the researchers didn’t find any issues among the participants, but they found cannabis actually improved symptoms of ADHD and other conditions that hinder goal-reaching.
In summary, the researchers wrote that the results were nothing more than “preliminary evidence suggesting that college students who use cannabis are more likely to expend effort to obtain reward.”
Finally, the results they found “do not support the amotivational syndrome hypothesis.”
Finally, a new study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology says something similar.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London found that cannabis users are just as motivated as non-users.
The researchers wanted to discover if adolescent cannabis use is actually as dangerous as society says and if there are differences between lack of motivation in cannabis users and non-users.
The researchers looked at three main factors between cannabis users and non-users:
So, they gathered 274 adult and teenage cannabis users and non-users who were given a questionnaire to measure their reactions when completing work on a scale of apathy to enthusiasm.
The researchers discovered that cannabis users were able to have a good time more often than non-users when doing regular, mundane tasks. This means that cannabis users scored lower for anhedonia than non-users.
In terms of apathy and motivation, both groups scored similarly. Even more interesting was how the study concluded that the frequency of cannabis use did not impact the results.
So, with two reliable studies proving that weed does not make people less motivated, what do you believe? You might use cannabis to relax at night and sink into the couch, but there’s a huge difference between relaxation and lack of motivation.
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