Cocaine Makes It Harder For People To Detect Negative Emotions In Others, Says New Study

What would we do without intrepid researchers mystery-dosing participants in their studies with cocaine to teach us valuable lessons about our own dickhattery? A study in European Neuropsychopharmacology published findings that cocaine makes it harder for its users to detect negative emotions in other people — which might explain why people are such jackasses when they do coke. In the study, 24 recreational drug users who were given a 300-mg dose of cocaine were found less able to perceive negative emotions in others, in comparison to the placebo group.

The research did reflect that the coke users were able to detect anger and disgust on par with the placebo group when the emotions were of high intensity. However, sadness remained difficult for them to perceive, no matter how intensely it was projected. It's also important to note that the 19 female and five male participants studied overwhelmingly skewed the results in terms of gender.

What this means for your party life is that while, yes, cocaine may help you feel a beautiful butterfly in social settings, it's probably because you can't perceive when your actions are making people feel sad, angry, or disgusted. If you need to work on judging yourself less, then hooray for you and party on! If you're already kind of an insensitive jerk, then coke is probably not your ideal recreational drug.

According to Dr. Michael Bloomfield of University College, London, the other question for more addictive users of cocaine is: Does overuse of the drug lead people to believe that others have more negative emotions than usual when they are off the drug? In other words, are addicts hypersensitive to perceiving negative emotions in others when they're not high? Because that probably doesn't help an addict's overall sense of unhappiness with their unaltered life.

What this means for medicine, says Dr. Bloomfield, is this:

“Since cocaine changes the level of the brain chemical dopamine, this new study may have implications for other mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia — where dopamine may also be involved in how we recognize emotions."

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