The treatment for love or relationship addiction is really not very different than the treatment for any other type of addiction. The primary goals of treatment are to 1) learn to manage the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, and 2) learn how to develop healthy relationships that aren’t driven by unhealthy needs that really have nothing to do with love.
Starting out, accomplishing these goals may seem impossible if you are suffering from love addiction. But recovery is possible. It does require the willingness to admit that you have a problem, and a commitment to make the necessary changes to overcome it.
As with all addictions, in order to make lasting change it is very helpful to understand the root of your addictive behavior. The root typically stems from painful childhood issues, such as neglect, abandonment, lack of appropriate nurturing from your primary caregivers, and / or trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. A combination of the above is not uncommon. Most love addicts are trying to avoid genuine intimacy, escape from or numb painful emotions, and / or desperately avoid abandonment.
Types of Love Addiction Treatment
Treatment for love addiction varies, depending on the philosophy of the program, the severity of the addiction, and whether or not you have another addiction or disorder (such as anxiety or depression) as well. Types of treatment for love addiction may include:
- Individual, family, couples, or group counseling or therapy
- Support groups and 12-step programs (e.g. Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA), Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), Codependents Anonymous)
- Residential love addiction treatment
- Medication (if indicated, as an adjunct to other treatment)
- Support groups are often available online as well as available to attend live in many cities.
- Important Steps on the Road to Recovery
- Following are several important steps are you go along your recovery journey:
- Start with the decision that you need to make lasting changes.
- Make sure your motivation for change is because you want to change and recognize the benefits of change – not because someone else is pressuring you or due to other external reasons.
- Understand the scope and underlying purpose (or function) of your addictive behaviors.
- Recognize and understand the fears and pain that drove your compulsive behavior.
- Learn to recognize the triggers for your addictive behaviors – begin removing and avoiding those triggers as much as possible.
- Establish healthy boundaries in all your relationships.
- Develop an action plan to manage and reduce powerful urges when they occur.
- Learn healthy ways to cope with painful feelings, stress, and problems in your life.
- Learn the ways in which society and others in your life do things that may have encouraged your addictive behavior.
- Recognize that you have the ability to handle whatever comes your way (such as loss) without depending on someone else to make you feel safe and okay.
- Make amends with those you’ve hurt or let down.
- As you progress in recovery, start putting your time and energy into developing other aspects of your life in a healthy way (e.g. working on personal goals, developing healthy new relationships, etc.).
Following are the 12 Steps for love addicts (from Love Addicts Anonymous*)
- We admitted we were powerless over love, romance, fantasies and relationships—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The sooner you reach out for help and start the road to recovery, the better. Regardless of how you feel or what you’ve been taught, you deserve to live a happy, fulfilled life – one that is not filled with shame, guilt, self-loathing, or feelings of worthlessness. There is hope for tomorrow – if you take the first step towards recovery today.