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Cocaine users enjoy social interactions less

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Posted January 21, 2014
Cocaine users enjoy social interactions less
Cocaine users show low activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex.
Regular cocaine users have difficulties in feeling empathy for others and they exhibit less prosocial behavior. A study at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Zurich now suggests that cocaine users have social deficits because social contacts are less rewarding for them. Social skills should therefore be trained during the treatment of cocaine addiction.

In Europe as well as worldwide, cocaine is the second most frequently used drug after cannabis. Chronic cocaine users display worse memory performance, concentration difficulties, and attentional deficits but also their social skills are affected as previous studies at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Zurich suggested. These investigations also revealed that cocaine users have difficulties to take the mental perspective of others, show less emotional empathy, find it more difficult to recognize emotions from voices, behave in a less prosocial manner in social interactions, and they reported fewer social contacts. Moreover, worse emotional empathy was correlated with a smaller social network. The scientists now assume that social cognitive deficits contribute to the development and perpetuation of cocaine addiction.

In their current investigation published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the psychologists Katrin Preller und Boris Quednow, Head of the Division of Experimental and ClinicalPharmacopsychology at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Zurich, conclude that impaired social interaction skills of cocaine users could be explained by a blunted response to social reward.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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