Study Examines the Effect of Drug Abuse on Ability to Recognize Human Emotions

Drug use and abuse often stems from an individual seeking to drown out feelings they find difficult to handle. The problem with this approach – aside from the damage the drugs can cause – is that it makes it more difficult for these individuals to recognize basic human emotions.

In a recent Science Daily release, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Granada was examined. In an analysis of the relation between drug abuse and recognition of basic emotions by drug users, the researchers determined that drug abusers struggle to identify negative emotions according to their facial expression. These emotions include wrath, fear, disgust and sadness.

In taking this evaluation even further, scientists also determined that the regular abuse of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine can affect the fluency and decision-making capabilities of the abuser. Working memory and reasoning are both affected in regular cannabis and cocaine use, while the latter is also associated with alterations in inhibition.

In an examination of 123 poly-substance abusers and 67 no-drug users with similar social and demographical variables, the researchers determined that 70 percent of drug abusers exhibit some type of neuropsychological deterioration, regardless of the consumed substance. This deterioration appeared to be significant in terms of working memory, as well as in flexibility, fluency, planning, the ability to multitask and with interference.

According to Fernández Serrano, one of the researchers involved in the study, the results should be employed within the industry to develop political and social policies aimed at the promotion of adequate rehabilitation programs that are adapted to the neuropsychological profile of drug-abusers.

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