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Emotional Intelligence and the use of tobacco and cannabis

The term Emotional Intelligence could be defined as the capacity to perceive, comprehend and regulate one's own emotions and those of others so as to be able to distinguish between emotions and use this information as a guide for one's thoughts and actions. One of the important benefits of developing this type of intelligence is the ability to learn how to interact with others and to face an ever changing social and cultural world more effectively.

The Stress and Health Research Group (GIES) of the UAB Department of General, Development and Educational Psychology has carried out a research entitled "Perceived emotional intelligence and its relation to tobacco and cannabis use among university students".The objective of this research consisted in analysing the possible relation between EI and the use of tobacco and cannabis among 133 UAB psychology students with an average age of 21.5.

According to the research, students who had started smoking either tobacco or cannabis at a younger age and who regularly smoked these substances obtained lower scores in questions related to emotional regulation. Thus students who are less able to regulate their emotional state are more tempted to consume tobacco and/or cannabis and regular consumption of these substances is a way of making up for this emotional shortage.

The level of emotional comprehension also seems to be related to the sporadic use of cannabis, since those who consumed less were the ones who scored highest in this category. In other words, young people who clearly comprehend the emotions they are experiencing, together with the situations in which they appear, are also those who consume less amounts of cannabis.

The study however did not reveal any relation between emotional perception and the use of these substances.

The results of the study indicate that a relation exists between some EI components and the use of tobacco and/or cannabis. Personal abilities are a key element in adapting to the demands of each person's surroundings and, in addition to actions addressed to preventing first contacts with drugs and their consolidation among people, developing one's EI could help prevent teenagers from the temptation of taking drugs.

Contact: Joaquin Limonero
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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