Why are there broken drug dealers

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

17.08.2011

Drug use affects social perception

Those who take drugs are less able to interpret the emotions on the face of their counterpart. This is especially true when it comes to negative feelings such as anger, sadness, or fear.

Those who take drugs are less able to interpret the emotions on the face of their counterpart. This is especially true when it comes to negative feelings such as anger, sadness or fear, a Spanish research team has found. The more intense the test subjects' drug use was in the past, the more difficult it was for them to correctly interpret the emotions. In addition, the regular abuse of alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and cocaine also affects other cognitive abilities: The drugs hit the memory and interfere with the processing of feelings and decision-making.

The correct assessment of emotions in others is of fundamental importance for human interaction. The brain regions affected by drugs such as cocaine are responsible for the perception of emotions, explain the researchers led by Maria José Fernandez-Serrano. They have been able to prove in several studies that drug use actually makes it more difficult to grasp the feelings of others. For example, drug addicts who have been abstinent for at least 15 days should be able to see from portrait photos which emotions are expressed by the faces depicted. Both positive and negative emotional states such as joy, surprise, anger, fear, disgust and sadness were shown. In particular, subjects with experience with various drugs had greater problems recognizing the negative emotions on their faces than subjects in the control group. On the other hand, when it came to interpreting positive emotions such as joy and surprise, the drug addicts did just as well as the other participants.

In another study, the scientists looked at how drug use generally affected the cognitive abilities of addicts who were in medical rehabilitation. To this end, they recruited a total of 190 study participants, 123 of whom were drug addicts and had taken various addictive substances in the past. The remaining 67 subjects were not addicts and served as controls. In various tests, the researchers examined the individual's cognitive abilities. The result: 70 percent of the drug addicts showed clear traces of neuropsychological impairments. Surprisingly, there was a general pattern that occurred regardless of whether the study participants had consumed alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines such as ecstasy or cocaine, the researchers say: In all of them, both the memory and the processing of feelings and the ability to Making decisions affects people.

In addition, the test subjects also had individual problems, which were determined by the type of drug cocktail they consumed and the length of time it was consumed. Study leader Fernandez-Serrano therefore emphasizes that it is necessary to develop special rehabilitation programs that are tailored to the different neuropsychological profiles of the patients.

Communication from the University of Granada: canalugr.es/social-economic-and-legal-sciences/item/46581 Source: dapd / Wissenschaft.de