A study published in the most recent issue of the journal Psychopharmacology has found that alcohol significantly increases aggression while cannabis significantly decreases it. The study was a random controlled trial, typically refereed to as the “gold standard” for research studies.
“This study investigated the acute effects of alcohol and cannabis on subjective aggression in alcohol and cannabis users, respectively, following aggression exposure”, states the study’s abstract.” “Drug-free controls served as a reference.”
Prior to conducting the study, researchers hypothesized that “aggression exposure would increase subjective aggression in alcohol users during alcohol intoxication, whereas it was expected to decrease subjective aggression in cannabis users during cannabis intoxication.”
The study included three groups; heavy alcohol users, regular cannabis users and a control group that uses neither. “Alcohol and cannabis users received single doses of alcohol and placebo or cannabis and placebo, respectively. Subjective aggression was assessed before and after aggression exposure consisting of administrations of the point-subtraction aggression paradigm (PSAP) and the single category implicit association test (SC-IAT).” In addition, “Testosterone and cortisol levels in response to alcohol/cannabis treatment and aggression exposure were recorded as secondary outcome measures.”
After conducting these tests, it was found that “Subjective aggression significantly increased following aggression exposure in all groups while being sober. Alcohol intoxication increased subjective aggression whereas cannabis decreased the subjective aggression following aggression exposure. Aggressive responses during the PSAP increased following alcohol and decreased following cannabis relative to placebo.”
The study concludes that “alcohol facilitates feelings of aggression whereas cannabis diminishes aggressive feelings in heavy alcohol and regular cannabis users, respectively.”
The full study can be found by clicking here.