Researchers Got People Drunk or High, Then Made a Fascinating Discovery About How We Respond

Article by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

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Alcohol isn’t just more harmful to individuals than marijuana is; it’s more harmful to society, too. Drunken driving is a big factor in this — studies generally show that alcohol impairs driving ability much more than just about any other drug does. Alcohol also makes people aggressive, and is a factor in roughly 40 percent of violent crimes committed today.

But surprisingly, research on the link between marijuana and aggression has been mixed. Marijuana seems to make most people relaxed, but it can also cause anxiety and paranoia, conditions which can occasionally manifest themselves in violent ways. There are occasional reports out of Colorado of marijuana users causing harm to themselves or to others.

They found, first of all, that “alcohol intoxication increased subjective aggression in the alcohol group.” The alcohol users, in other words, acted more aggressive when they were drunk than they did when they were sober. By contrast, the smokers became less aggressive when they were high.

These findings held through both the self-assessments — alcohol users rated themselves as more aggressive when drunk — and through the responses to the tests: The drinkers tried harder to undermine their computer opponents when they were drunk. But the smokers actually acted less aggressive toward their computer opponents when they were high.

“The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression,” the researchers conclude.

Read full article here.

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