Addicted to Love: Not Just a Song

There are many types of addiction - substance, gambling, food, sex...the list goes on. But it seems like everyone could use more love in their lives, right? For some people, however, love becomes all-consuming. The emotional high of contact with another person who shows interest or love for the other person gets addictive, and soon, the level of attention becomes insufficient for the addict, who craves more and more. When the attention is withdrawn - usually in the form of a breakup - the emotional breakdown is comparable to a drug addict coming down. The physical symptoms can even be similar - sweating, insomnia, nausea, etc. Researchers have found a link to love's effect on the brain and that of drugs like cocaine and heroin. Withdrawal from these drugs stimulates the same brain pathways as the ensuing reaction of a breakup. Brain-imaging technology showed that study subjects who were scanned while viewing pictures of their romantic partners had the same areas of their brains light up as those that correspond to drug addiction.

Symptoms of love addiction includes the craving of that "rush" when a new relationship starts; as the relationship matures and the initial infatuation cools, the love addict might become anxious or restless, looking to achieve that feeling again. Balancing the euphoria of sex or loving feelings and the fear of losing the relationship causes negative feelings and chaos. As the relationship cools or ends completely, the love addict begins chasing that intense feeling once again, and the cycle begins anew. The problem with love addiction, as opposed to other addictions, is that it is not yet classified as a mental disorder by mental health professionals. So there are no dedicated programs for love addicts, as there would be for other addicts. There are online support groups such as Love Addicts Anonymous, a group whose tenets and philosophies align with traditional 12-step rehabilitation programs. Traditional rehabilitation programs, specifically those that treat mental disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, may be a good place to start for love addicts who can't seem to help themselves.