Scientists at the University of Granada were the first to investigate the relation between drug abuse and the recognition of basic emotions—happiness, surprise, wrath, fear, sadness and disgust. They found that drug abusers had difficulty recognising negative emotions (wrath, fear, disgust and sadness) from people’s expressions.
The scientists also found drug-specific characteristics in the harm they do. Consuming cannabis and cocaine adversely affects work memory and reasoning, while cocaine is associated with alterations in inhibition.
The researchers carried out a neuropsychological evaluation of 123 polysubstance abusers and 67 no-drug users with similar social and demographic variables.
The study revealed that 70 per cent of drug abusers presented some type of neuropsychological deterioration, regardless of the type of substance consumed. Deterioration was seen most in working memory, fluency, flexibility, planning, multitasking abilities and interference.
María José Fernández Serrano, lead author of the paper, thinks that the results obtained “should be employed to develop political and social policies aimed at promoting adequate rehab programmes adapted to the neuropsychological profile of drug-abusers”.▪