I was crazy unhappy but I was in love and every time I tried to break up my feelings of anxiety were so great I would do whatever I had to to get my fix. I was a cocaine addict for 15 years and my love addiction felt scarily similar. He treated me badly, but all I wanted was to get the high I got from seeing him. He knew this and took advantage of me, because our relationship consisted only of sex. I’m embarrassed that I allowed myself to be treated like this for 6 years. The feeling I got after seeing him was such a high. When researchers examined the question love as a drug, they found that intense feelings of romantic love affect the brain in the same way drugs like cocaine or powerful pain relievers do.
Breakups often lead to a psychological state that resembles withdrawal from an addiction. They literally take away the crack you were on. So now you experience withdrawal symptoms, making it painfully clear to you just how addicted you were to you love interest. When you are addicted, you satisfy at least some of the following conditions:
- You need more and more of the activity or drug for you to achieve the desired effect (tolerance).
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not engage in the addictive activity or drug.
- You engage in the activity or take the drug more frequently and for a longer period of time than initially intended.
- You have a persistent desire to quit or control the activity or drug.
- You spend a great deal of time ensuring that the activity or drug access can be continued.
- You give up or reduce important social, occupational or recreational activities because of the addiction.
- You continue the activity or drug despite knowledge of its physical or psychological consequences.
Psychiatrists diagnose love addiction satisfying at least five of the following criteria:
- You have obsessive thoughts about aspects of the lost relationship or the person you were with.
- You spend a significant amount of time every day or almost every day, thinking about your lost relationship or the person you were with.
- You have intense emotional pain, sorrow, pangs, or yearnings related to the lost relationship.
- You avoid reminders of the loss, because you know that reminders will cause you pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
- You have problems accepting the loss of the relationship.
- You have frequent dreams that relate to your lost relationship.
- You frequently suffer from deep sadness, depression, or anxiety because of the loss.
- You are angry or feel a deep sense of injustice in relation to the lost relationship.
- You have difficulties trusting others since the relationship ended.
- The loss of the relationship makes it difficult for you to find pleasure in social and routine activities.
- Your symptoms make it difficult for you to function optimally on your job, as a parent or in a new relationship.
The only way I could kick my cocaine addiction was to change everything about my life. I had to move to a new city and cut off communication with many of my friends. I found it necessary to replace my unhealthy addiction with a healthy addiction.
- They find a new hobby, challenge, or healthy relationship to help fill the void left by the addiction. It may be something they liked doing before the addiction took over, or something new. Whatever it is, it provides new meaning in their lives.
- They start exercising. This is important for two reasons. One, exercise is a natural antidepressant. It relieves stress and helps you think more clearly. Two, exercise prompts the body to release its own psychoactive substances—endorphins—that trigger the brain’s reward pathway and promote a feeling of well-being.