Love Is a Natural Drug

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Love Is a Natural Drug
John-Mark I. Chambers
The University of the West Indies
Mona Campus

Love addiction and substance dependence have similar characteristics, namely, the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the presence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, and the negative influences they have on a person’s life. Love addiction is similar to addictive drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and heroin because of the effects that dopamine have on the addict’s mind and body. These effects then lead to a person’s experience of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are very important in the maintenance of an addiction as they cause the person to crave and need more of the addictive
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These actions are also seen in love addiction as a person experiencing tolerance would try to increase the amount of time spent with their loved one and reduce the intervals between meetings with that person. For example one of my friends could not go two days without seeing his girlfriend last summer, and when they saw each other, it was for the whole day. He was clearly experiencing tolerance. These behaviours are needed to produce even higher levels dopamine so that the desired response is achieved. Another characteristic experienced in both love addiction and substance dependence is withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are any physical or psychological disturbance experienced by a drug addict when deprived of a drug. Some drugs such as alcohol produce more physical withdrawal, while others such as marijuana produce more psychological withdrawal. Some withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, depression, racing heart, palpitations, sweating and poor concentration. Reynaud et al. (2010) state that the absence of the loved person has similar symptoms to those of substance withdrawal; these include negative mood (irritability, anxiety, depression, anger), suffering and sensations of emptiness. “Withdrawal compels addicts to resume drug use to prevent or reduce physical symptoms and dysphoria” (Cami & Farré, 2003, p. 982). Therefore both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are important for the maintenance of the addiction. Love
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