Buffering the pain of Social Exclusion with Marijuana


New evidence suggests that marijuana maybe popular because it helps people cope with the pain of loneliness.

Why smoke marijuana? Users would probably reply that numbed-out bliss is its own reward. But if smoothing out the harsh edges of reality is your goal, what bruises are you attempting to avoid?

Newly published research suggests that, at least for some, the answer is: The intense discomfort of social exclusion.

“Marijuana has been used to treat physical pain,” reports a research team led by University of Kentucky psychologist Timothy Deckman, “and the current findings suggest it may also reduce emotional pain.”

Interesting. Got me fascinated.

[D]ata on 5,631 Americans, who reported their level of loneliness, described their marijuana usage (if any), and assessed their mental health and feelings of self-worth. Not surprisingly, the researchers found a relationship between loneliness and feelings of self-worth, but it was significantly weaker for regular pot smokers.

“Marijuana use buffered the lonely from both negative self-worth and poor mental health,” the researchers write.

Another experiment, featuring 537 people, found those who were experiencing social pain were less likely to have suffered a major depression in the past year if they smoked pot relatively frequently.

Still another experiment, featuring 225 people, used the computer game Cyberball to create an immediate experience of social exclusion. Half the participants in the three-person game received the ball twice early on, and then never again during the course of the game. They then reacted to a series of statements designed to assess whether their need for self-esteem and belonging felt threatened—statements such as, “I had the feeling that the other players did not like me.”

The results: Those who smoked marijuana relatively frequently felt less threatened than those who smoked it less frequently, or not at all.

I’m very interested on the effect mitigating loneliness caused by severe depression.


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  • Jimmie

    Chicken & Egg. Do stoner’s start smoking coz they are lonely or do stoners become lonely coz they are ostracized by normal folks because of their weed smoking.

    • PM of NZ

      And just wait till all those ‘legal’ K2 stoners come off their daily fix mid-August when the law is changed. Fun times ahead as a new crop of social outcasts cry ‘woe is me’.

      • Frank Collette

        1 week to come right with regular cannabis, maybe 3 days

      • Young and Dumb

        You should honestly see the ‘stoners’ that walk into cosmic corner and other resellers looking for synthetic cannabis. Every time I’ve been in there and listened to their conversations it has been very concerning. They ask questions that the normal pothead would ask like which one gets me ‘higher’, only the problem is that with all the chemicals added to the blend it is not a matter of THC entering the bloodstream and laxing you out but more of a case of an unknown chemical hitting the brain and fucking your head up.

        I am a very heavy pot smoker, by my own admission too often. However after sampling these synthetic products a few years ago I have vowed to avoid them at all costs and would prefer to go without.

        On the topic of helping with loneliness I find that after ‘getting high’ I am content with being alone and what not. But again one of the biggest issues with pot is that it makes you content with anything and that is really the danger in it all.

    • Frank Collette

      stoners are generally happier sorts?

  • Agent BallSack

    I am a regular cannabis user, not everyday any more but it would be uncommon for me not to smoke once a week.

    Some points:

    I am a sufferer of depression
    I generally smoke with a group of people rather than alone
    Most times I am fine while stoned but it can give me nervousness and trepidation, very rare however.
    I do not get bitchy when I don’t have it
    I never get stoned during the day at work it makes me too numb.

    IMO cannabis has beneficial health effects that well outweigh the negative effects that affect a small percentage of the population – Panadol can kill some people, we don’t see that banned.

  • PlanetOrphan

    For me it’s gut pain/ starvation.
    But I think alcohol is used by many for the same anti lonliness/depression reasons.

  • James

    I used to be a regular dope smoker, sometimes alone and sometimes with mates. When smoking alone it definitely helped out that sense of loneliness that you can get – and even now the only time that I feel like a joint is if I’m socially alone for whatever reason. It definitely helped – in the same way that a glass of rum & coke or an after work whisky helps others.

  • NoVictim

    Seems crazy to me that synthetic cannabis products like K2 are available at the dairy, when the real thing is illegal.
    I would consider the synthetic product to be more dangerous than the natural one.

  • Frank Collette

    No need to be fascinated any more.

    Cannabis club memberships shows a high degree of autistic types, adhd types, and all types of freak and visual divergent peeps. Indeed, cannabis is ideal for relief of the stress of difference,especially amongst a tribe of similar looking baboons with a superiority complex.

    Take away the bullying and the drug use will disappear. It is mainly for dealing with the trauma of being different, weaker maybe, maybe slighter genetic health….or in the case of many cannabis users, superior genetic well being.

    Yes, cannabis use serves those above as well as below the mean average of humanness

    Yet, society needs these different types, just as an organism needs antibodies, and complex immune systems. History has shown what happens when well-meaning but ill informed scientists start playing god with an environment [gorse rabbits privet anyone?].

    Thank you for bringing to light
    the plight
    of those traumatised by society
    for being weak, sick and different.

    Stop criminalising them

  • Frank Collette

    PS your last comment should read:

    I’m very interested in the mitigating effects of cannabis on depression, triggered by societies handling of autistic difference and the accompanying loneliness for being different.