Surprising Side Effects of Using Marijuana Everyday, Says New Survey
More people consider marijuana use acceptable than at any point in history, and a steady increase in legalization means it's more available for recreational use than ever before. But cannabis, like any substance, isn't risk-free—it can have uncomfortable side effects. And they're not just physical. One new study found that marijuana use could have an effect on one area of your life you probably hadn't considered. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Researchers Looked at Cannabis and Relationships
Using marijuana may not be the warm-and-fuzzy experience that's so ingrained in pop culture. In fact, researchers behind a new study found that frequent marijuana use might cause tension in your relationship.
"Knowledge about how cannabis use affects and is affected by experiences in romantic relationships notably lags behind its popularity," said study author Jessica Salvatore, an associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "We looked at different indicators of relationship functioning: how satisfied and committed people felt about their relationship, their behavior and physiology during a laboratory-based conflict interaction and their perceptions about their conflict discussion and relationship afterward."
How the Study Was Conducted
The study involved 145 couples that included at least one marijuana user. Each person was asked about their frequency of marijuana use and their level of relationship satisfaction. All the couples were then videotaped having a 10-minute discussion about a source of tension in their relationship, while the scientists measured their bodies' responses to stress.
Next, the couples talked for five minutes about topics they agreed on. After those conversations, the subjects told the researchers how they thought the conversations had gone and how satisfied they were with any conflict resolution.
The videos were then watched by two sets of raters who analyzed each person's responses to conflict, such as avoidance (deflecting uncomfortable topics or ignoring areas of disagreement) and negative engagement (demanding changes, criticizing, blaming).
What the Study Found
The researchers found that people who used cannabis more often displayed less parasympathetic withdrawal with their partner—a reduced ability to be flexible in stressful situations. More frequent users also tended to be more critical of their partners, more avoidant of conflict, and less able to let things go.
"The assessments by the cannabis users were almost the exact opposite of what independent raters found," said Salvatore. "However, it is important to note that this study's findings do not mean that cannabis use is wholesale good or bad for relationships. Rather, it gives insight into how couples can better navigate conflict and come to a resolution. When you don't see problems, you can't solve them."
Salvatore noted that the study only observed correlation between marijuana use and relationship tension, not causation, and said that more research needs to be done.
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