Can You Be Addicted to Love?



Nicotine. Chocolate alcohol opioids work gambling. Sex food you might as well face it. Life is basically a gauntlet of substances and behaviors. That humans can become obsessed with and dependent on. But what about love not just sex but the deep interpersonal attachment we call love can be addictive. The notion of obsessive all consuming and even addictive love goes back literally thousands of years the ancient greek poet. Sappho wrote about watching her lover mary. Someone else and she describes being seized trembling drenched in cold sweat and feeling nearly dead she might as well be describing opium withdrawals or singing aversive addicted to love romantic. Love does have a lot of external features in common with drug addiction initial feelings of bliss and euphoria and obsessive fixated behavior often leading to poor potentially life ruining decisions. Two thousand ten paper from the new york academy of sciences points out that common criteria for diagnosing dependence include life interference tolerance withdrawal and repeated attempts to quit. Sound anything. like your relationship with your ex if so you're certainly not alone. But is there any more measurable basis for thinking. Love can be considered an addiction in the brain. Actually yes. let's talk brain imaging one way. That addiction hijacks the human brain is by taking advantage of a million reward and motivation systems. Like the mess olympic dopamine system which includes the ventral tag mental area and the nucleus accumbens. This is part of the nervous system that gives us internal rewards when we do something with an evolutionary benefits like eating or having sex essentially how the brain tells itself. Hey what you just did do that again. And again and again whether it's eating nutritious meal or unfortunately snorting cocaine back in two thousand five. A study in the journal of neurophysiologist used fm. Are i look at the brains of test subjects. Who self reported that they were intensely in love with someone else. When these lovebirds were showing pictures of the people. They adored there was activation in sections at that. Same mammalian reward and motivation system for example the right ventral mental area. But that's not all a follow up study in two thousand ten looked at what happened to the brains of men and women who had been rejected but reported that they were still deeply in love. It wasn't pretty when heartbroken. Lovers were forced to look at pictures of their exes. There was elevated activity in our old friends. The ventral take mental area and the nucleus accumbens researchers pointed out that the rejected lovers showed several neural correlates in common with the brain activity of cocaine addicts craving their drug so at the level of brain chemistry. Romantic love can be kind of like substance addiction but there are reasons why you might not want to refer to your latest crush as a full on addiction just yet. For example the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders does not officially recognize love addiction and while cravings for love can be devastating when their unrequited or self destructive they can also be deeply fulfilling in a way that no drug habit ever could be.

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