Love and Relationship Addiction Treatment Programs
While people often think of addiction as an abuse of substances, it can be an unhealthy physical or psychological dependence on anything, including love. Addictions to love, relationships, or sex are also quite similar to drug addictions, and love addiction treatment shares some similarities with drug rehab. People who feel they may be addicted to love can call 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? or filling out a quick contact form for help with finding the support to recover.
Love as a Drug
Falling in love can bring about a sense of euphoria. When in a budding relationship, the world often seems like a brighter, happier place. Sometimes, cares melt away and responsibilities take a backseat to the pleasurable experience. This “honeymoon phase” may be due to natural chemicals. Love and romance activate regions of the brain that partly control the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter with a “feel good” effect. These regions of the brain are also associated with drug addiction.
People who are addicted to love may be addicted to the feelings associated with higher dopamine levels, or they may be addicted to their natural oxytocin. Some drugs have a similar effect. Infatuation is similar to a cocaine high, according to Helen E. Fisher, Ph.D., a professor who studied the chemistry of love. Withdrawal from a relationship can also affect the areas of the brain associated with cocaine and nicotine cravings.
Signs You Are Addicted to Love
A love addiction can be difficult to differentiate from the normal highs and lows experienced in relationships. While an addiction often involves unhealthy behaviors and distressing thought patterns, some people may frequently have unhealthy relationships without being considered an addict. Certain signs do indicate a potential problem, however. The signs include:
- Obsessing over someone to the point that it interferes with everyday life or influences a person to behave inappropriately.
- Idealizing a partner or potential partner and considering that person to be “perfect” or to be the only who could ever be the “right” partner.
- Lying or manipulating someone with seduction, empty promises, violence, or any other means to control the person or convince him or her to stay in the relationship.
- Feelings of worthlessness when single or experiencing distress when alone.
- Cycling between elation and depression depending on a relationship’s status.
- Avoiding relationships and sex for set periods in an attempt to stop these behaviors or the emotional ups and downs.
Some love addicts also tend to pursue partners who are bad for them in some way, such as people who are emotionally distant or involved with someone else. They may also struggle with codependency. If these signs are familiar, please call 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? or fill out a quick contact form to discuss love addiction treatment options.
Help for Love Addicts
Addiction Support Groups
Voluntary addiction support groups are often very useful in providing an outlet for recovering or former addicts who have completed residential or other intensive rehabilitation therapy to continue to deal with the issues that led to their addiction. Participation in these groups, which is often also recommended by counselors and addiction experts as a part of intensive outpatient addiction therapy, often prevents relapses of addiction disorders.
Although love addiction treatment mirrors drug abuse treatment in some respects, the primary goal is somewhat different. Love addicts should not strive or vow to abstain from relationships for the rest of their lives. Instead, treatment focuses on helping people feel good about themselves, with or without partners, and helping them make adjustments to beliefs and behaviors to have healthy relationships.
Treatment often includes counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. This can help a person overcome any negative beliefs and perceptions about relationships that influence the addiction. The behavioral aspect may include temporary abstinence. When not dating, the person may have an easier time working through withdrawal symptoms and staying committed to treatment. After addressing underlying issues, such as codependency, the person may find that the potential for sex or relationships does not elicit the same intense feelings it once did.
Attending support groups can also help people manage love addiction. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is a community-based group. It follows a 12-step program similar to the one used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Depending on the facility and whether a person opts for inpatient or outpatient treatment, professionally facilitated group therapy may be another component of treatment.
People who are interested in entering relationship and love addiction treatment programs should consider calling 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? or filling out a quick contact form to explore the available options. Calling this 24/7 hotline is free and secure.