For my first blog post I thought I would begin with a topic that I came up with from listening to the talks last week, specifically Alcoholism by Corrine Marshall; this topic is the social cognition effects that drug and alcohol use have on the individuals who regularly use them as a sort of “social activity” and the effect correlation between these different drugs. Drug users usually report that they first begin to use drugs in a social setting to enhance social interactions. For example, this could be individuals who are social drinkers, or someone who takes “ecstasy” before going to parties. To reiterate I am looking at individuals who use drugs socially and not those who use them by themselves recreationally.
What impact do these activities have on a individuals social cognition? I believe that a big reason for the social use of many drugs stems from the direct impairment of the brains ability to recognize and ditinguish between different facial expressions and emotional alteration/enhancement; this leads to individuals believing that their social interactions are “enhanced”. I believe this to be at least one of the driving forces behind social drug use. So to be perfectly clear, I am saying that these specific drugs are used social because of their ability to change how the brain processes social interactions.
There are four different studies I will be looking at for this info; studies performed on Alcohol, on the Amphetamine known as “Speed”, and on the Amphetamine known as “Ecstasy”. These drugs all effect the brain in different ways but the studies all reported that individuals ability to read facial expressions were decreased while emotional states were either altered or intensified. For the amphetamines specifically subjects were more likely to experience intense positive and happy emotions, and were more likely to view pictures of facial expressions positively. However individuals under the influence of alcohol were more likely to experience either intense positive or negative emotions and responded more negatively to pictures of facial expressions. These changes in cognitive processes lead to drastic changes in social interaction and this dynamic change in social interaction is what makes the social use of drugs appealing to many individuals.
The papers that I am sourcing to back my claims have all been scientifically peer reviewed and I find nothing wrong with their methods. They all clearly provide the evidence that I have presented concerning the alternations to cognition leading to changes in social interaction. However, their findings by themselves do not come to the same conclusion as I do about the reasons for the drug use; which is that the altered social interaction that they create are what make them so attractive to certain individuals. I’m sure that others will argue that it is the addicted properties, social pressure, or other such reasons. However, remember that my argument is based on purely social drug use and I am ignoring drug use based on addiction as I am attempting to look at drug use in a purely social interactive light based on changes in brain ability to process social interactions.
- Amphetamine as a social drug: effects of d-amphetamine on social processing and behavior
- ‘Ecstasy’ as a social drug: MDMA preferentially affects responses to emotional stimuli with social content
- Alcohol attenuates amygdala–frontal connectivity during processing social signals in heavy social drinkers