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Does Long-Term Cannabis Use Stifle Motivation?

Researchers have found that dopamine levels are lower in long-term cannabis users and people who began using the drug at a younger age. Lower dopamine in a part of the brain called the striatum is linked to less ambition and motivation at a neuronal level. Do you smoke marijuana? Does cannabis make you less motivated? Read More

I had never been around pot,

I had never been around pot, or anyone who used it, until I was in my late teens, and never tried it until I met my ex-husband when we were both 21. He had apparently started using it around age 11, and I tried it a couple times at age 21. He and all his friends ended up like the classic stoner stereotype....couldn't care about anything if they tried. They just want more lounging around with pot, beer, and pizza. They don't care how many jobs they lose over it. I tried it several times and had no effect at all, until I tried LSD. That had an effect, and pot affected me after that. However, after having tried several things, I decided the druggie life just wasn't for me, gave it up, and moved on. It was pretty motivating to hear that before we got married, he'd been through several jobs because he "couldn't find anything he really liked", and after we got married, he had "lost 13 jobs due to his drug problems". Interesting shift in the story, there.

Yes it stifles societally acceptable motivation - but it doesn't stifle motivation

I have several observational comments on cannabis use. There are the youngsters that use it to 'get high' as an escape from the suppressive environments that they exist within. There are those that use it for there mental health issues to alleviate anxieties - and the users that I am aware of are very aware of the potential for paranoia and carefully limit their use. And there are those who choose to use it as a lifestyle choice as opposed to alcohol. The adult users that I am aware of, whether they have received a mental diagnosis or not, are very politically aware and also very creative. Unfortunately we still adhere to a materialist reductionist scientific model and constantly assume that the genes have all the answers. We stigmatize 'pot' users due to the ignorant non-scientifc propaganda that was dispersed over 100 years ago and have a societal consensus that 'drug' use is bad - strange that doesn't apply to alcohol which is possibly the most detrimental drug that exists and is still legal. You talk of the carrot and stick model, mainly relying on the carrot - perhaps some users have decided that they don't like carrots? The paradigm you are describing is so passe - but mainstream science is lagging behind.

I would need to see more

I would need to see more research on this subject to fully accept the conclusions of this study because there is one potential flaw: they may be pointing the arrow of causality in the wrong direction. They are claiming that using cannabis lowers motivation/dopamine, but it may just be that people with naturally lower motivation/dopamine are more attracted to cannabis use.
Like I said, I would need to see more research to confirm either conclusion, but my personal experience points me more towards believing that cannabis doesn't inherently demotivate people. Really, it just seems to intensify whatever you're doing. If you're a demotivated person who likes to sit around and be bored all the time, it makes being bored more fun. On the other hand, I know people who completely break the "stoner" stereotype and use cannabis to help with schoolwork, housework, various hobbies, etc.

Drugs & Alcohol in a nut shell

I think drugs/alcohol always have this potential, because they can encourage good or bad habits. The individual decides how he reacts to using these substances and from there you have a wide range of people that use this substance to fail or succeed it is just a matter of opinion as to whether you think one or the other of the individual, because of what they do or what substance they choose on a daily basis.

Hi all, Sorry for my English,

Hi all,

Sorry for my English, it's long time i haven't practiced.
I would like to say something :it's really true that smoking cannabis affect the motivation.
I used to smoke for long years ago when i was studnet at the university and the result is that i never succeed my studies.

I didn't smoke for a long period and recently i was curious to taste it again.
So I smoked Whitewidow, a famous weed, and il felt very anxious and i saw an obvious lack of motivation.
I read somewhere that canbis can lower the testosteronne level and so impact motivation.

I think it 's no a good thing to use drugs.

Is Psychology a Science

Association is not proof of cause.

Disassociated anecdotal evidence is not empirical.

Dopamine levels may be decreased because the ingested cannabinoids reduce the need to produce it. Dopamine levels may be reduced from a number of psychological states, that are commonly self medicated with cannabis, as the current psychological treatment model is largely ineffective.

Empirical studies do not support the cannabis amotivational syndrome concept, I'd expect this point to be made clearly by a periodical begging to be regarded as scientific.

Personal Experience

Yes, smoking marijuana changed my life. I lost motivation, became depressed and now I ruminate constantly.

Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

Dear anonymous, Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experience with myself and other readers. Have a good night, Christopher Bergland

Motivation really can be an issue

The other issue I have seen among heavier cannabis users is a tendency to live in a fantasy world. That said, I think cannabis users may actually be more emotionally expressive than non-users.

I had an East Indian roommate who said conventional wisdom in India was that Cannabis was beneficial to older users-and harmful to younger users. I would like to see that studied--along with just how much harm we see from occaisional/monthly/weekly use vs. chronic/daily use.

Cannabis and low dopamine and pain

We finally are getting marijuana out of the closet. I have been in club med almost fifty years. Since I was ten, stealing Vodka from our parents and cigarettes I could buy anywhere. I started pot at twelve to stop smoking tobacco and quit constant alcohol in my twenties and didn't smoke tobacco for nine years. Have not done crack or heroin because I saw friends on it (bad scene). Marijuana users, we have had to deal with countless decades and centuries of discrimination and prejudice. Not fun and no good will, will come from that.
Like anything else, when drug like if its not for you don't do it. End of story.
Now science is looking for discernment as they stumble through the complexity of the molecules in Cannabis. They very much want to synthesize it and constantly are attempting to replicate it. No pill, so far. Many use pot for pain and glaucoma but it should do the opposite and increase pain because dropping lower dopamine levels permits more pain perception.
I know a community of regular pot smokers that are all successful long term employed or self employed, house owners, successful at parenting tax payers. One thing is for sure pot after a few hours will make you sleepy and some fall asleep immediately after smoking it. The paranoia is more like an adjustment to a new environment like being on a Ferris Wheel and for some a roller coaster. It is very short lived experience that usually stops in twenty minutes max. Roller Coaster feeling people stop smoking pot. Obviously marijuana alters brain chemistry and its complexity of altering is anything goes for now including dopamine levels, the Cannabis effects, likely the brain signals to body glands that change excretions and absorption. There is so much more to research on level changes and absorption after smoking pot.
Lazy from pot, personally I have never met anyone. Lazy and smoke pot, now those I have met and leave them, gone, out of my life. They are bummers, dumb and numb. Never been my life style, lazy on pot. Lazy people have many excuses, and one of them, its the pot's fault. We call smoking it inspiration and for twenty years it has been my pain killer opiate illegally.
I really liked your article. You admit you had bad experiences from this group (many strains of Cannabis to treat different diseases) of drug that bounces around to where its at, a depressant when you have none and a psychoactive drug when you smoke it again. Thanks for the article, better than most I've read.

Close friend I've known since I was nine is chronic pot smoker

My friend is a chronic pot smoker and has done very little with his life, even though he is probably one of the most talented and gifted men I know. Quite and underachiever for the intellectual gifts he's been given. I love him but am afraid he threw his life away for pot.

Having grown up in the

Having grown up in the sixties, pot for breakfast, lunch and diner was the norm. Pot definitely lends itself to lack of motivation in the majority of frequent smokers. The very nature of the high is one of, "Tripping-out," on life and everything around you. Like all, "Highs," they play on hedonism. Especially young people use pot for the escape from stress, the Quick Fix or Mood Changer for life itself.

It lowered my motivation

I believe it lowers motivation. I didn't try pot until I was 17 because I had no desire. I had a passion for music so i never cared for it, despite the fact I had been around it for years. But I'm 19 and I've been smoking for 2 years, I feel like I'm less motivated than I was to make music. I still do it, all the time... but unfortunately I rarely do it sober. I'm always smoking in the studio.

Started smoking after university

Most of the research talks about people who started smoking pot in their teens and early adulthood. What are the effects of pot when you start smoking it later in life? I think the answer to this question should guide the legalization of marijuana.

My experience with pot

I had a hard childhood, abusive mother (physically then mentally). I had a hard time in school because of my dyslexia, I was bullied and had no real friends to speak of until I reach 11th grade. Despite all of this I made it to university were I was finally able to make great friends. I worked very hard, I was involved in lifeguard competition ( 3rd at the nationals) and graduated loan free and with an average above 3.0

The first time I smoked pot I was 26. I had a husband, a house and a great job. From then I smoked about 3 to 4 times a year until I was 31. At this point I started to smoke a joint daily on and off. 1 once per month for 2-3 month and then nothing for about the same. I only trust one person to supply me and he doesn't live close to me :( I'm not a fan of supporting organize crime... He grows small amount and only sells to people he knows well. I started growing my self and can't wait until I don't have to take those month off. Personally I am happier and more productive when I can have my nightly hit. I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, for me smoking pot helps.

I'm now 35. I'm still happily married. I have a great well paid job. We are 8 months away of being completely debt free. Bye Bye mortgage and car payment. All of my friend, except one, have no clue that I smoke and would not believe it if someone told them that I did.

having little motivation makes pot more appealing to me

I'm an "under achiever" and proud of it. I still do enough to get by quite comfortably.
Dope helps me disengage from the futile ambition and strife that society tries to impose.

What are we all trying to keep up with the Jones for?

When one, for whatever reason feels disaffected by life, it is hard to find any reason why not to partake in the pleasure of pot.

Smoked every day for a year

I only smoked pot once before college, but started smoking regularly to relieve pain my freshman year of college. After smoking nearly every day for over a year, I find that I am lacking in motivation and energy. As a psych and philosophy double major, this feeling of a lack of desire intrigued me and caused me to start examining the feeling more thoroughly.

After finding tons of information about the anti-motivational feeling being ascribed to smoking pot, which I had expected, I've decided to take a break from smoking, whether permanent or for a short time, in order to test if I can regain my motivation and desire.

Slowly it is coming back, but it is incredibly difficult to focus on one thing for too long, and almost physically painful when I try to feel desire or vast motivation to do something. Perhaps after a few months this will improve, but I can't say for sure.

It will come back to normal,

It will come back to normal, don't worry about it. I smoke a few times a week (im in psych too ;) ) and as long as you don't use it as an escape, you're good to go. Use it as a reward after a hard day!

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I smoke pot a few times a

I smoke pot a few times a week. I am 19, started at 18. I'm in second year of psychology and my semester average is 90%. I have the same job I had two years ago, I get called a "perfect employee". I have very good relations with my family, and friends. I'm active on the dating scene. I take dance classes, I write, I'm planning to do my Masters and Phd and open my own clinic. I do volunteering twice a week in a lab. And I am a stoner. Weed doesn't change you. You change the way you want to change, and don't take responsibility, so you blame weed.

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Christopher Bergland is a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and political activist.


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