Is Love a Drug?

Posted by on 08 30 14 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on  Is Love a Drug?

All you need is love … love is all you need.  So goes the song. It’s also the mistaken thinking of people struggling with a disorder known as love addiction. Love addiction really does occur and it is linked to other compulsive behavior disorders.

What Causes Love Addiction

This kind of addiction has two sides. One is psychological and the other is physical.


A certain number of people with love addiction are attempting to compensate for emotionally deprived childhoods. Children who do not feel nurtured and loved can grow up with significant insecurities. Being involved with another person romantically makes them feel worthwhile and temporarily silences those inner voices which say they don’t deserve to be loved. Of course, it is only during the early stages of infatuation that such fears can be hushed. The moment that a relationship progresses, the fragile sense of self is in jeopardy once more.

In addition, love addicts frequently seek out partners who are either abusive or who are somehow emotionally unavailable. These destructive relationships may be thrilling at the outset, but before long they simply reinforce all the feelings of worthlessness simmering inside.


The physical side to love addiction has to do with the chemicals that make romance such an emotional rush. During the beginning stages of romantic attachment the brain releases a veritable flood of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are what cause the intense feelings of excitement and pleasure that are hallmarks of infatuation and new love. The love addict craves this thrill. Once the thrill fades, so does interest in the relationship.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher conducted a small study (15 subjects) in which she examined how romantic rejection affects the brain. Fisher used brain scans to monitor brain activity and found that the same brain pathways involved in drug addiction were activated by love rejection. This may help explain why the love addict moves continually from partner to partner.

In fact, the near-constant hunt for a new romantic partner is one sign of the addiction. Other symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Hating to be alone
  • Repeatedly choosing abusive or emotionally unavailable partners
  • Seeming desperate whenever they are without a romantic interest
  • Ignoring family and friends in favor of romantic partners
  • Using sex to hold on to partners or misinterpreting sex as love
  • Craving relationships but are repeatedly unhappy in them
  • Difficulty separating even from abusive partners and returning to them when they can

There are other signals that point to love addiction. For example, while many people who undergo a painful breakup may take some time off before entering another relationship, the love addict behaves in the opposite way. Love addicts have relationship after relationship, none of which seem to last for long.

Other Problems Associated with Love Addiction

As with other types of addiction, this problem rarely exists in isolation. People with love addiction face an increased risk of coping with love rejection through substance abuse. This could be drugs or alcohol. The constant use of sex as a tool of attraction can also lead to sexual addiction.

People with love addiction struggle with self-acceptance. This leaves them vulnerable to forming an eating disorder on top of their love addiction. Whether they self-starve through anorexia, self-purge with bulimia or seek to self-soothe with binge eating, the deep hurts which drive love addiction can also turn in other directions and drive other risky behaviors.

Overcoming Love Addiction

Although this addiction is a patently physical problem, it is rooted in psychological damage. The person does not think correctly about himself or herself or about others. Therefore, a therapy which helps them to develop a healthy mindset will be of greatest benefit. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches patients how to recognize destructive thought patterns and to intentionally redirect thoughts into a more positive and healthful track.