The National Post reports on new research from the University of Oxford which is seeking to validify the experience of love addiction. “In a new paper, the Oxford team says there now exists abundant evidence from brain-based studies to support their claim ‘love is (or at least can be) an addiction,’” Love, the act of falling in love, the feelings of being in love, or the security of being in a romantic relationship can act as its own substance, likening love addiction to a substance addiction like to drugs and alcohol. “…To love intensely is to essentially be addicted to a ‘social object’ — another person –,” the article explains, “and that people suffering ‘problematic’ attachments ought to be offered the same supports and treatments extended to drug abusers.”
Of course there is always an air of caution when comparing the addiction of instantaneously fatal drugs like heroin or cocaine to emotional experiences which can certainly feel like “death” or “dying” but not actually result in it. Rarely does a broken heart cause actual heart attack. Love addiction and the distress caused by it can be severe enough to result in physical, as well as other mental, health issues. However, many of the mechanisms in the brain are the same when it comes to responding to “love” or responding to drugs. MRI studies have examined brain activity in people who are “in love” or those who are “heartbroken” and have “…found feelings of love can provoke strong biochemical reactions in some of the same brain regions associated with addiction,” the article cites. “These reactions involve the release of serotonin and dopamine, neurochemicals that play crucial roles in active drug addiction.”
Cravings, symptoms of “withdrawal”, experiencing “highs” while in love and despair when heartbroken or without love, are all part of love addiction and mirror the experience of chemical addiction. Obsessing about a lover, past, present, or future, can lead to desperate, often self-destructive behaviors, in order to feel “love” or emotional validation.
Untreated, love addiction can lead to other chemical addictions, as drugs and alcohol can enhance feelings of “love” and love-related euphoria as well as seemingly soothe heartache. As stimulants and depressants, drugs and alcohol can match the mood of the love addiction process, leading to a complicated relationship of mental health issues. Treatment for love addiction as it is co-occurring with chemical dependency issues and other mental health issues is necessary in order to treat all causes and effects.
Cottonwood Tucson is a leading clinical provider of addiction rehab and behavioral health treatment for co-occurring disorders, pioneering the way for over 20 years. As a safe and understanding environment, our beautiful 35 acre campus is a place of healing and hope for men and women. For information, call us today at (888) 727-0441.