Study: Marijuana helps people cope with pain of loneliness

In Feature Stories, Mental Health by David Silverberg

A recent study found  marijuana use buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion.

The widespread appeal of marijuana may be credited to its health effects on not only the body but also the mind, researchers said.

The University of Kentucky psychologists noted marijuana use softens the pain of exclusion. “Marijuana has been used to treat physical pain,” researchers write in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. ” The current findings suggest it may also reduce emotional pain.”

Researchers, conducting four studies on this topic, first incorporated data on 5,631 Americans, who reported their level of loneliness, wrote down their marijuana usage (if any), and assessed their mental health and feelings of self-worth.The study authors discovered a link between loneliness and feelings of self-worth, but it was significantly weaker for regular marijuana smokers.

“Marijuana use buffered the lonely from both negative self-worth and poor mental health,” the researchers write.

An additional experiment found people who were experiencing social pain were less likely to have suffered a major depression in the past year if they smoked marijuana relatively frequently.

These studies indicate that “marijuana use consistently buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion,” researchers concluded.

Photo via Flickr user justCRONO