The concept of cannabis consumption leading to laziness only exists in movies
Cannabis users are no more likely to lack motivation than non-users. A Cambridge study puts the cliché of the “lazy stoner” to bed, suggesting that the stereotype often conveyed by the media and opponents really has no scientific basis.
Many today are so used to seeing “lazy stoners” on their screens that they don’t question whether they are an accurate representation of cannabis users. The work of these researchers from Cambridge University scientists implies that this stereotype is inherently lazy.
The researchers focused on whether cannabis users had higher levels of apathy (loss of motivation) and anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure related to rewards) compared to controls and whether they were less willing to exert physical effort to receive a reward. The results are published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.
The team recruited 274 adolescent and adult cannabis users who had used cannabis at least once a week in the past three months, averaging four days a week, and matched them with non-users of the same age and sex. Cannabis users scored slightly lower than non-users on anhedonia, meaning they appeared more apt to enjoy themselves, but no significant differences were found for anhedonia over apathy. The researchers also did not find a link between the frequency of cannabis use and apathy or anhedonia in cannabis users.
“We were surprised to find that there was a relationship between frequency of cannabis use and apathy or anhedonia in cannabis users,” said Martine Skumlien, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. “We were surprised to find that there was actually very little difference between cannabis users and non-users in terms of lack of motivation or lack of pleasure, even among those who used cannabis every day. It goes against the stereotypical portrayal we see on TV and in movies.”
Unfair assumptions can be stigmatizing and hinder harm reduction messages. There is a need to be honest and upfront about what the harmful consequences of drug use, especially cannabis, are and are not.