smoking cannabis

Smoking is arguably the most popular way of consuming marijuana. Since this activity can be done with the company of friends and other like-minded people, blazing up cannabis can also be one of the most enjoyable methods out there.

Indeed, smoking pot has always been considered a social occasion and an opportunity to mingle. As such, you may be wondering exactly how your newly-bought weed seeds could affect and contribute to your social circle. If so, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the effects of smoking cannabis on your social life and relationships.

Cannabis, Sociability, and Relationships

The effects of smoked marijuana take hold quickly. Within a few minutes after inhalation, you will begin to feel a lot more relaxed and euphoric, putting you at ease in social settings, whether in the company of friends or strangers. It is also not uncommon for you to fall into a fit of laughter or giggles. All of these, in turn, can increase your sociability, helping expand your social circle.

But, smoking cannabis can also harm your social life, especially when done in excess. When a person abuses weed, their interpersonal relationships may suffer. As a result, the addicted individual may become estranged from their family, close friends, and colleagues.

Below, we’ll explore both the positive and negative effects of cannabis on your social life.

The Good

When smoked responsibly, cannabis can shower plenty of benefits to your social life. This includes lowering stress and anxiety, improving mood, and expanding your social circle.

1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Many people smoke cannabis to ease their anxiety and lower their stress levels. It can usher in a sense of calm and deep relaxation, putting you in the right mental state to interact with other people. After all, when you are less anxious and self-conscious, your inhibitions significantly lower, making it easier for you to have the time of your life in social situations.

But, take note that the effects of weed on anxiety may depend on the type of cannabinoid you blaze up.

First, let’s take a look at cannabidiol or CBD, the plant’s primary non-psychoactive compound. Studies have shown that CBD has powerful anxiolytic or anti-anxiety properties, making it a potential treatment for anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD) (Blessing et al., 2015).

SAD is more than just shyness. Also referred to as social phobia, it is marked by an intense, nagging fear of being watched, judged, and negatively perceived by others. This can be incapacitating, interfering with your ability to act properly in certain or all social situations.

In one study, social phobia patients were treated with a single dose of either CBD or placebo before a simulated public speaking test. Results showed that the participants who received CBD experienced a significant reduction in anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment during their speech performance (Bergamaschi et al., 2011).

As for THC, research reveals that it has a biphasic effect on anxiety (Rey et al., 2012). In other words, the psychotropic compound may relieve anxiety at low doses, but worsen it at higher doses.

reduces-stress-and-anxiety

2. Improves Mood and Depressive Symptoms

Depression is a mental condition characterized by a low mood, constant feeling of sadness, emptiness, and loss of interest in activities. It can be debilitating, impairing your daily functioning. This includes your capacity to connect with others.

Studies show that people with depressive symptoms are associated with negative social interactions (Steger & Kashdan, 2009). They are also more likely to experience isolation within their social networks (Elmer & Stadtfeld, 2020).

The greater the depressive symptoms, the more often these individuals would experience unpleasant social situations, and the more strongly they would react to them. Interestingly, they also reacted just as strongly to positive social interactions.

Researchers found that people with depressive symptoms appeared to have more satisfying, more meaningful lives when they experienced a sense of belongingness (Steger & Kashdan, 2009). This indicates that healthy social relationships can help boost well-being in depressed people.

This is where smoking marijuana can help. As previously mentioned, getting high on weed is associated with increased mood and a rush of euphoria, which can make you more inspired to interact with other people. Although the research on the link between cannabis and depression is still in the early stages, some of the findings already show promise.

In one study, researchers recruited severely depressed individuals who also happened to use cannabis (Denson & Earleywine, 2006). Their goal was to analyze the link between marijuana use and depression. Data showed that daily users had a better mood and more positive affect than non-users. They also experienced fewer bodily complaints. This suggests that the plant may help reduce the symptoms of depression.

The antidepressant effects of cannabis can be attributed to both THC and CBD.

THC, for one, binds and activates the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor. Experiments performed on rats indicated that activating this receptor could produce antidepressant-like effects (Hill & Gorzalka, 2005). Meanwhile, a review of animal models found that CBD exerted antidepressant-like effects, most likely due to its interaction with the 5-HT1A receptor (de Mello Schier et al., 2014).

3. May Increase Your Social Circle

Smoking marijuana is a social experience first and foremost. Although blazing up solo can be relaxing and rewarding, there is something inherently special about smoking in the company of friends, laughing together as you pass around a joint, blunt, bong, or even a dab rig.

Thanks to the legalization of marijuana in Canada, the cannabis community is steadily growing. This has also given birth to myriads of virtual and face-to-face gatherings, including summits, conferences, workshops, and other networking events. In other words, there is never a shortage of opportunities for you to meet other canna-enthusiasts and widen your social circle.

improves mood

The Bad

As with any other substance, smoking cannabis can also be harmful when done in excess. For one, it can exacerbate or increase the likelihood of mental troubles, including anxiety and depression.

Also, remember that marijuana can be addictive. With heavy and repeated intake, you may develop dependence and addiction to the plant. This is also referred to as Cannabis Use Disorder (Patel & Marwaha, 2020).

When this happens, problematic and compulsive marijuana use becomes your number one priority. Your life will revolve around obtaining and using the drug or recovering from its effects. This, in turn, causes you to:

  • Isolate yourself
  • Drift apart from your friends and family
  • Give up key social, occupational, or recreational activities
  • Fail to meet major obligations at work, school, or home

To make matters worse, you also won’t be able to control your consumption patterns, which means that you will keep on smoking the bud despite the health and relationship problems it brings. You will also develop unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can only be relieved by taking cannabis. As a result, your attempts to stop or reduce your intake often fail.

The adverse effects are even more severe among individuals who started smoking cannabis as adolescents (Feeney & Kampman, 2016). For example, they may be more prone to psychological problems and impaired social functioning. As a result, they may struggle to execute their social responsibilities, as well as have compromised relationships with other people (National Academies of Sciences, 2017).

Becoming More Sociable and Outgoing With Cannabis

Smoking cannabis can affect several aspects of your day-to-day existence – and that includes your social life. Thanks to the plant’s stress-relieving, mood-elevating, and euphoric effects, it can help you become more sociable. This, in turn, can make it easier for you to connect with others, make meaningful connections, and widen your social circle.

But to make the most out of the positive effects of cannabis, it is important to smoke responsibly. The last thing you want is for the plant to take control of your life, ruin your relationships with your loved ones, and invite a slew of adverse health and social ramifications.

Citations

Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H., Chagas, M. H., de Oliveira, D. C., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., … Crippa, J. A. (2011). Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219–1226. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6

Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

de Mello Schier, A. R., de Oliveira Ribeiro, N. P., Coutinho, D. S., Machado, S., Arias-Carrion, O., Crippa, J. A., … Silva, A. C. (2014). Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, 13(6), 953–960. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871527313666140612114838 

Denson, T. F., & Earleywine, M. (2006). Decreased depression in marijuana users. Addictive Behaviors, 31(4), 738–742. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2005.05.052 

Elmer, T., & Stadtfeld, C. (2020). Depressive symptoms are associated with social isolation in face-to-face interaction networks. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58297-9

Feeney, K. E., & Kampman, K. M. (2016). Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use. The Linacre Quarterly, 83(2), 174–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/00243639.2016.1175707 

Hill, M. N., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2005). Pharmacological enhancement of cannabinoid CB1 receptor activity elicits an antidepressant-like response in the rat forced swim test. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 15(6), 593–599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2005.03.003 

National Academies of Sciences. (2017, January 12). Psychosocial. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425739/

Patel, J., & Marwaha, R. (2020, November 29). Cannabis Use Disorder. StatPearls [Internet]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/nbk538131/

Rey, A. A., Purrio, M., Viveros, M.-P., & Lutz, B. (2012). Biphasic Effects of Cannabinoids in Anxiety Responses: CB1 and GABAB Receptors in the Balance of GABAergic and Glutamatergic Neurotransmission. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(12), 2624–2634. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2012.123

Steger, M. F., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Depression and everyday social activity, belonging, and well-being. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56(2), 289–300. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015416