Drug users have difficulty recognizing negative emotions

Apr 11, 2011

Substance-abusers may have a more difficult time recognizing facial expressions conveying negative emotions.

Drug abusers may have a difficult time recognizing basic negative emotions such as wrath, disgust, fear and sadness by facial expressions conveying those feelings, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Granada.

In the study, which used a sample group of 123 substance abusers and a control group of 67 non-substance abusers, researchers asked participants to identify facial expressions conveying happiness and surprise, in addition to the four negative emotions mentioned above. Drug abusers struggled to identify the negative emotions.

This discovery contributed to the researchers finding that 70 percent of drug users endure some form of "neuropsychological deterioration." The results also showed that frequent users of cocaine experience altered inhibition, adding cannabis affects reasoning and memory, and finally, consuming alcohol along with the other two drugs may lead to fluency and decision making problems.

Drug users may have much more to worry about than the above mentioned problems. The number of alcohol and drug related deaths is approximately 35,000 per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those with substance abuse problems may also have difficulty obtaining life and health insurance coverage due to the high risk of medical complications they face as a result of their addictions.  

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