Treatment For Obsessive Love Addiction And Substance Abuse
Love addiction and substance abuse are both mental health conditions that may be caused by many of the same underlying issues. They may also exacerbate each other, and failure to treat one or the other can result in a relapse back into addictive behavior.
Recovery by the Sea offers individualized, comprehensive programs designed to treat all aspects of our clients mental health and physical well-being. Our programs feature therapies and activities clinically-proven to be essential for recovery, including psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to love and drugs or alcohol, contact us today! Our mission is to ensure that we help as many people as possible reclaim their lives, free from substance abuse, and go on to enjoy long-lasting happiness and wellness!
Can You Be Addicted To Love We Take A Look At Limerence
Falling in love is one of life’s most powerful and overwhelming experiences. The euphoric high, those butterflies in the stomach and that can’t-stop-thinking-about-you feeling when you meet a person to whom you are both emotionally and sexually attracted.
And after the initial excitement, most of us settle into more steady feelings of a deeper, more content love. But what happens if you don’t? What happens if you’re stuck in that obsessive stage of love for years, or even decades? This rather unpleasant concept actually has a name — limerence.
“Limerence is a combination of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and addiction for another person. And it interesting because, this is not a love addiction per se and it’s not a sex addiction. It’s an addiction for another person,” co-author of ‘Love Variant: The IDR Wakin-Vo Model of Limerence’, Professor Albert Wakin said.
“The ones that stand out are the individuals that tell me that it’s been decades and they can’t get the other person out of their mind. The OCD has obviously calmed down, but they think about the person many times a day, every single day, and it has been decades.”
But if you haven’t heard of the term limerence, don’t worry. The term only became part of common lexicon in 1979 when Dorothy Tennov’s book, ‘Love and Limerence: The Experience Of Being In Love’ was published. So what has more than three decades taught us about this elusive, torturously ongoing stage of love?
Understanding Addiction As A Complex Behavior
Other signs of addiction to love would include urges to continue engaging in the behavior despite trying to stop, such as feeling alone and desperate when no longer in a relationship and persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the behavior, such as deciding to never fall in love again, yet replacing ended relationships immediately.2
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Dealing With Obsessive Love Addiction
Like many types of obsessive or addictive behavior, love addiction is primarily a mental health condition. It shares many similarities with substance dependence and often occurs concurrently with each other.
For this reason, treatment for love addiction often takes into consideration other forms of obsessive or addictive behavior that the individual may exhibit. When a love addict also has substance abuse issues, these will have to be addressed to make a full recovery possible. If one or the other issue remains untreated, there is a high likelihood of the individual relapsing and reverting to addictive behavior.
As with substance abuse issues, personalized, comprehensive treatment programs have proven to be effective for dealing with most cases of obsessive love addiction. Many such programs have been developed to address issues with the individuals mental health while simultaneously ensuring their physical well-being.
The most effective treatment programs for obsessive love addiction combine activities and intensive therapy. Love addiction treatment methods are based on clinical research and are geared toward helping the individual achieve full recovery. These programs often include counseling and psychotherapy, as well as group support.
Risk Factors Of Love Addiction
Addictive love is a complex condition, and there are various risks associated with it. Addiction in any form is a challenge, and when it involves someone you are in a relationship with, it affects their life too, as they are facing love addiction.
Here are a few risks associated with the problem:
- Emotional and psychological problems
- Involvement in toxic and abusive relationships
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Psychological Built Of The Brain
The act of falling in love stimulates the brains reward system, acting on the dopamine receptors and triggering feelings of pleasure and excitement.
This propels the individual to constantly seek desire and exhilaration, which inevitably leads to the addiction and addictive relationship patterns in the persons character.
The individuals who are addicted to falling in love crave the initial thrill of their first romance and want to relive those moments over and over.
Thus, the addicted person will search for more and more relationships to fulfill their desire. According to Robert Weiss, love addicts do not actually seek love at all.
The rush and high of the first romance is oftentimes entitled limerence, which represents the psychological word that denotes the early developing stages of a relationship between two individuals.
Obsessions And Love Addiction
An obsession can take over our life, WIt steals our will and saps all the pleasure out of life. We become numb to people and events, while our mind replays the same dialogue, images, or words. In conversing, we have little interest in what the other person is saying and soon rehash our obsession, oblivious to the impact on other people.
Obsessions vary in their power. When theyre mild, were able to work and distract ourselves, but when intense, our thoughts are laser-focused on our obsession. As with compulsions, they operate outside our conscious control and are rarely abated with reasoning.
Obsessions can possess our mind and paralyze us. Our thoughts race or run in circles, feeding incessant worry, fantasy, or a search for answers. They can take over our life, so that we lose hours, sleep, or even days or weeks of enjoyment and productive activity. Other times, they can lead to compulsive behavior like repeatedly checking our email, our weight, or whether the doors are locked. We lose touch with ourselves, our feelings, and our ability to reason and solve problems. Obsessions like this are usually driven by fear.
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If You’re An Avoidant Love Addict You Steer Away From Emotional Intimacy At All Costs
Love addiction can manifest in one of two ways: obsession or avoidance.
According to Whetstone, avoidant love addicts and obsessive love addicts tend to date each other and exist in a toxic symbiotic relationship. The obsessive pursues the avoidant and the avoidant keeps the obsessive at arm’s length. But rather than letting the obsessive go, the avoidant seduces them into the relationship again, and the cycle between continues.
“It’s a never-ending pattern of pursuit and distancing,” Whetstone said.
While the avoidant’s outward behavior makes them seem aloof and uninterested, they are just as love addicted as the obsessive.
“On the conscious level, they get overwhelmed by intimacy and closeness, but the underneath layer of it is they’re terrified of being abandoned,” Whetstone said.
You’re Always Anxious Your Partner Is Going To Leave You
All love addicts fear being abandoned by their partner and left alone. Whetstone said that even when a love addict is in a relationship with the person they are obsessed with, they are never secure in their trust for the partner.
“They are going to seem very insecure and anxious and needy,” Whetstone said.
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Signs Of Addictive Relationships Might Include:
- Fear of Intimacy/Being known/Vulnerability
The negative consequences of love addiction can vary. Depending on the level or extreme of ones love addiction, negative consequences can range from violence to increased feelings of shame, depression, impaired emotional growth, chronic emptiness, loneliness, loss of intimacy and enjoyment in life.
In the extreme- love addiction may cause more murders and suicides than any other addiction.
Addicitve relationships negatively affect both partners. They are full of toxic ‘push-pull’ relationship patterns, love-hate dynamics, drama, and intensity, where negative intensity and obsessive thinking are mistaken for intimacy and connection.
Denial, fantasy, and impaired expectations fuel these dysfunctional relationships.
Most people know about addictions to substances like alcohol and drugs, but not many people understand that love addiction is just as real and just as destructive– and often more painful, as other addictions.
Because this addiction is not well understood by most helping professionals, it often goes untreated for the countless individuals suffering.
Living With Love Addiction: Coping & Managing Symptoms
Although love addictionlike any other addictionis not a curable condition, it is treatable. By remaining consistent and intentional throughout recovery for the duration of ones life, life may ultimately become better than ever. The key is to keep recovery a top priority.
Common techniques for successfully living with love addiction include:
- Successfully completing a treatment program
- Checking back into treatment whenever times get rough or relapse occurs
- Having a positive support system
- Discussing emotions and challenges with trusted others
- Celebrating successes
- Becoming comfortable spending time alone
- Having ones own identity comprised of independent thoughts, activities, social groups, et cetera
Again, this list is by no means all-inclusive but serves as a start. You know yourself best. Consider healthy things that work and go from there. While in therapy these are the exact types of strategies you and your therapist will explore.
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What Is A Sex And Love Addiction
Both sex addiction and love addiction are mental disorders characterized by an impaired ability to engage in healthy emotional intimacy. Men or women suffering from either disorder typically have obsessive thoughts and compulsions leading to unhealthy behaviors.
A sex or love addiction may negatively impact a persons health, personal relationships, job, and ability to function responsibly in their life.
Signs Of Obsessive Love
Fixation with a person who they believe holds the key to their happiness and fulfillment.
The onset of tunnel vision, where the person cannot think about anything else except possessing the other person. This not only affects his thought processes, but his daily activities as well.
Onset of neurotic and compulsive behavior like rapid telephone calls to the lovers place of residence or work.
Stalking them either physically or through varied social networking mediums in order to keep tabs on them.
When in a relationship, displaying certain telltale signs like becoming suspicious of their partner, resenting their relationships with others, accusing them of cheating, and in the most extreme cases, even resorting to violence .
Unfounded accusations of cheating.
Driveways around a love interests home or place of employment, with the goal of assuring that the person is at where he/she said they would be.
Physical monitoring of their activities by following them throughout the course of a day to discover their daily activities and whereabouts.
Controlling the partner. This includes questioning the commitment to the relationship so as to manipulate him/her into providing more attention.
Indulging in obsessive love stalking, rape, murder, and other destructive activities.
With deterioration of a love relationship, there may be stress-related disorders like asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
A sudden loss of self-esteem or feelings of guilt and self-hatred.
This Is A Pattern Of Behavior In Your Relationships Not An Exception
Whetstone said that love addiction relies on a pattern of behavior, so even if love addicts break up with the person they were initially addicted to, they typically move on very quickly to their next partner.
“Becoming aware of the pattern is going to be the first step to stop the pattern,” Whetstone said. “You’re just going to move on and get addicted to another person.”
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Treatment For Pathological Love
In their review, John and Sanches found few research studies on treating love addictionnone on pharmacological treatments, and only one on psychotherapeutic approaches.1
Use of self-help groups was the most common psychosocial intervention.
A study that examined psychodrama group therapy found it effective in encouraging healthier relationships. However, the study did not use a control group, so further research is needed.
Other forms of therapy likely to be helpful in treating pathological love are cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy .
Given the similarities between pathological love and disorders reviewed earlierobsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse-control disorders, and mood disordersJohn and Sanches believe pharmacological treatments might prove beneficial in treating specific symptoms of pathological love, such as obsessions or mood instability.
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General Addiction And Dependency Patterns
Altered State of Reality:Addiction used as an emotional escape feel alive Creates an altered state- fantasy, high, euphoria, and relief.
Tolerance:Diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of behavior, activity, love/attention , substance/drug, etc. Increased use of dependency/addiction to keep or recapture euphoria, intoxication or desired positive effect.
Preoccupation Pursuing Behavior:A great deal of focus and time acquired to attain/keep hold of- behavior, activity, love/attention , substance/drug, etc.
Neglect/Self Abandonment:Interests, goals, important social, recreational, or outside activities are diminished, ignored, or stopped completely.
Consequences:The addiction is continued despite ongoing persistent problems from behavior, activity, love/attention , substance/drug, etc- an inability to stop acting out .
Despair:Physical and/or Psychological withdrawal symptoms occur when the addiction is stopped or when addiction is no longer available
* The LOVE ADDICT in Love Addiction goes into detail about this pattern occurs in love addiction
Many people are often surprisedto learn that people can, in fact, become painfully addicted to a person in relationships in the same way they become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other compulsive behavior’s.
For those who currently face or have experienced the pain, obsession, and various symptoms of love addiction– know all too well how real this problem is.
Unavailability And The Fantasy An Ideal Relationship:
Individuals who fall victim to feelings of obsessive love tend to focus these feelings on a person who is obviously UNAVAILABLE .
This means the object of obsessive love is likely to be, at best, indifferent to the attention s/he receives from his/her ardent admirer. Indeed, it is thought to be this very lack of response from the object of obsessive love towards the one afflicted by the obsession that is largely responsible for fueling and perpetuating the obsession. But why should this be?
The answer to this seems to be that because the admirers deep feelings remain utterly unreciprocated and no relationship develops, the only way the admirer can have a relationship with the admired one is IN HIS/HER OWN HEAD .
And, of course, a fantasy relationship can be an IDEAL RELATIONSHIP, something that could never happen in reality .
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Signs Of Love Addiction
People who struggle with love addiction may idolize their love interest and pursue relationships for the sake of the honeymoon phase or become very clingy and overly dependent on their partner. Love addiction can take on the following symptoms, but these signs are not limited to this list:
- Needing to be in love.
- Putting the romantic partner on a pedestal.
- Obsessing over romantic interest.
- Experiencing cravings, withdrawals, euphoria, and dependency on their partner.
- Needing to fall in love often.
- Seeking emotional comfort from a partner to the point of unrequited love.
- An inability to be alone.
It is normal to idolize romantic partners by putting them on a pedestal. In the case of love addiction, however, the love addict may obsessively put their partner on a pedestal to their detriment. The partner may not even be emotionally responsive, affectionate, or may be abusive.
Ethical Implications: Two Mysteries
The science and philosophy of addictiongenerally speakinghave sought to solve two basic mysteries. The solution to these mysteries, in the case of love-addiction as much as for any other purported form of addiction, will have important practical and ethical implications.
First, we have sought to learn whether, or to what degree, those who suffer from addictions are capable of abstaining from or moderating their reward-seeking behavior and second, we have been very interested to know whetherand howwe can help people to recover from addiction using various treatment modalities. We will consider these mysteries in turn as they relate to the notion of love addiction in the following sections.
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Symptoms Of Obsessive Love Disorder
- A strong attraction to one specific person
- Possessive and clingy behavior
- Poor self-esteem, whether internalized or known
- Repetitive need for reassurance
- Abnormal difficulty with rejection
People with O.L.D. often feel as though their world revolves around the object of their obsession. A person with may take tabs on the object of their love and cling to the object of their love past the point that could be excused as potentially normal or healthy. Obsessive Love Disorder is not in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders , and therefore you might not think to seek medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, but it’s recognized by care providers such as counselors and therapists. It can impact a person’s life severely, harm relationships, and can cause extreme distress for the person experiencing it.
The Difference Between An Obsession And An Addiction
Helping your clients discern between an obsession and an addition can be quite a challenge. They may believe their behavior is obsessive when in reality it is addictive. The distinction between the two determines they type of treatment necessitated.
An obsession and an addiction can look the same but the root is different. For instance, they gamble every week spending approximately $10 on lottery tickets. Gambling in this example is the behavior that can be obsessive, addictive or both.
The obsessive part of the behavior is gambling at the same store, on the same day, with the same numbers and if it is not done in this manner then there is no winning. It does not matter if there is evidence of past wins it only matters that things be done a certain way.
The addictive part of the behavior is dreaming of how the money will be spent, what will be bought, and who will benefit from the winnings. The dreaming is active, enticing, exciting, and consuming an entire day of thinking about the possibilities.
All of these behaviors have roots in fear. Fear that if they dont follow the routine, they will have a negative consequence. Outcomes like a headache, burnt down house, missing something important, infection, death, others negative opinions, disorganized life, or loss of something they love. Fear, either real or imagined, leads to obsessive behavior.
Last medically reviewed on April 28, 2015
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