The U.S. has witnessed a lot of debate on the usefulness, or not, of marijuana. While some people are favoring marijuana legalization as they believe in the medicinal properties of the drug. Others are under the misconception that indulgence in cannabis causes no harm. The latter group will now have reason to reexamine their belief as a new study suggests that prolonged use of pot might result in a stunted response to stress when compared to non-users.
A group of researchers in the study titled “Blunted stress reactivity in chronic cannabis users” aimed to examine the validity of the belief that long-term use of cannabis helps to cope with undue stress. The study published online in the journal Psychopharmacology in August 2017, found lower emotional arousal and dampened reaction to stress in response to negative images. The researchers published the revelations based on their examination and measurement of the salivary levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The researchers from the Washington State University in Pullman enrolled 40 long-term marijuana users and 42 other people who did not smoke marijuana. They were haphazardly asked to go through a high-stress version or zero-stress version of a test recognized for medical purposes. This resulted in four groups of the participants, including marijuana users and non-users who had undergone the high-stress test, along with weed smokers and non-users who were relieved from taking the test.
The researchers then asked the respondents to rate their stress levels prior to, during and after the stress test. In addition, they also assessed the cortisol levels from the saliva samples they had collected from the participants before and afterward. Post the completion of the test, the respondents also handed over their urine samples. Examination of the samples helped the authors to assess the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in weed, to affirm the respondents’ self-reported details about marijuana use.
Dampened reaction to stress
Comparison of the results of non-marijuana users who had completed the high-stress test with those who had participated in the no-stress version of the test revealed that the stress condition resulted in “significantly higher levels” of self-rated stress and salivary cortisol. In addition, long-term marijuana users exhibited “blunted stress reactivity.” However, there was not much difference in the cortisol levels between those who had completed the high-stress and those who had undergone the no-stress test. Only a minimal level of increase was noted in the self-reported stress scores.
Based on the observations, the researchers assumed that marijuana use might greatly help in increasing the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, especially, in those with a heightened emotional response to stress.
The findings of the study are important as it evaluates the impact of extreme stress on salivary cortisol levels in critical weed smokers in contrast to non-users. However, more research is needed to examine both the short-term advantages and possible long-term consequences of chronic cannabis use, the authors said.
Excessive use of any kind of drug, including marijuana, can have adverse effects. With studies constantly suggesting potential side effects of marijuana use, both lawmakers and the public are now keen to design and execute laws to create legal limits to prevent marijuana impairment. If you or your loved one is addicted to weed, treatment for marijuana addiction at Sovereign Health of Texas can help. Our El Paso marijuana addiction recovery center provides a calm, welcoming place to receive effective, evidence-based treatment for cannabis abuse. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives for more information.