Eat a good meal. Earn money. Have sex. These experiences stimulate the brain’s reward centers, which then generate a sense of satisfaction and gratification. But this effect is decreased among marijuana users, which could push some of them to compensate for the lack of satisfaction by consuming more drugs.
This is shown by a study conducted by American researchers and published in JAMA Psychiatry. According to the authors, these findings suggest that marijuana may not be as harmless that describes it.
“While some jurisdictions have legalized marijuana and others are considering doing so, I believe it is important that citizens are aware of the long term consequences of marijuana use,” says Elisa Trucco, professor assistant in psychology at Florida International University in Miami and one of the authors of the study.
Recall that the Trudeau government has pledged to legalize marijuana in Canada.
The results stem from a large study conducted in Michigan with 108 young adults in their twenties who were followed for several years. The researchers asked participants to play a video game where they could win or lose money (from a few cents to US $ 5). While participants were running, scientists have monitored the activity of their brains using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging. The exercise was repeated for three consecutive years.
“Normally, the idea of making money, our brain lights up, says Dr. Trucco. Some areas of the brain, called reward centers, are active. ”
The level of activation of reward centers varies from one person to another. Some will be very excited at the idea of making money, others less. But the researchers showed that activation attenuates young adults who claim marijuana.
“The more marijuana use is high, the less activation in the brain in response to rewards,” says Elisa Trucco.
Consume more cannabis to compensate?
Pot smokers, by their personality, they are simply less likely to money the average person? No. Because following the participants for three years, the researchers showed that activation in the brains of marijuana users decreases over time, regardless of its original level. Controlling for other variables, the researchers conclude that it is marijuana that affects the functioning of the brain’s reward centers.
“Our study shows that these are not individual differences in the reward centers that drive people to use marijuana, but marijuana that affects reward centers,” adds Ms. Trucco.
What does that mean, in real life, for regular users of marijuana?
“It means they will find that daily pleasures like eating a good meal, have sex or make money are less satisfactory” answers the researcher.
Without having formal proof, the researchers believe that this could bring some marijuana users to compensate for this lack of satisfaction by consuming more cannabis or turning to other drugs, potentially addictive.