Love addiction: Sometimes called Pathological Love — is There Such a Thing?

Love addiction is sometimes called ‘pathological love’. When healthy feelings of attachment and affection become obsessive and uncontrollable, they become pathological. How does this happen?  Why are some people driven to an insatiable need for love?

Although currently undefined, there is a consensus that love addiction, is a behavioral addiction. It is described as a mood, impulse-control, or obsessive-compulsive behavior. It can appear as reward-seeking impulsivity, combined with attachment behaviors. It can manifest in obsessive-dependent love or an impulsive sexual drive with multiple partners. Different factors result in different combinations of excessive and out-of-control behaviors.

Unlike physical addictions, love addiction is not based on the desire for consumption of any chemical substance. The feelings of ‘love’ trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine which feeds the addictive cravings of pleasure, satisfaction, and euphoria.

Love addiction becomes a problem when behaviors increasingly infringe on other responsibilities and obligations. A love addict feels the compulsive desire to pursue love because of the intensified feelings associated with it. This love addiction cycle includes the compulsive need for attachment, approval, and belonging. The cycle repeats itself when the love addict feels abandoned or rejected.

Why love addiction?

It is believed that love addiction stems from unhealthy childhood attachments.  A child’s need for love, acceptance, self-esteem, and belonging are formed and solidified in childhood. Any maladaptive attachment behaviors learned in childhood often repeat throughout a lifetime without awareness and treatment.

Childhood attachment trauma can occur in many ways:

  • Parents expecting autonomy from their children at a young age
  • A co-dependent relationship between parent and child, where the child is emotionally unprepared to respond to the adult in a healthy manner
  • Physical or emotional abuse and abandonment
  • A child taught to seek love, fulfillment, and self-esteem from another rather than from their own sense of self-worth, boundaries, and healthy relationships

Is there hope for love addiction recovery?

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the treatment of love addiction, understanding the root cause of the underlying behavioral patterns is the key to breaking free of the addiction. Healing Springs Ranch offers individualized treatment programs, designed to uncover unhealthy behaviors and misplaced emotions adopted as coping mechanisms for childhood traumas.

With a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, our residential SUD treatment programs offer a unique combination of individual and group therapy, 12-Step and SMART Recovery meetings and experiential therapies.

We place a heavy emphasis on our core curriculum, which includes:

  • Relapse Prevention and Life Skills
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Steps to Recovery
  • Vocational Mentoring
  • Trauma/Mental Health Education

While we believe in providing clients with a structured, routine-oriented environment with around-the-clock support, we also believe in taking our clients’ unique needs into consideration when creating treatment plans. Our staff will collaborate with you to develop the most beneficial program for you.  Call today to learn how to turn your life into the healthy and balanced experience you deserve.