Do you recognize your addictions?

2/11/2012, What Falling in Love Does to the Brain

“Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs,” said study co-author Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In other words, you start to crave the person you’re in love with like a drug…

But the brain studies did suggest that love changes over time, Aron said. “As long as love remains, we get used to the relationship, and we’re not afraid our partner will leave us, so we’re not as focused on the craving,” he said.

That is, there are striking similarities between the brain state of a person falling in love and that of a person who has just smoked crack cocaine. We’re not talking about the slightly buzzed feeling you might get from drinking a glass or two of wine, but rather about the high-octane euphoria associated with smoking crack cocaine. Falling in love is the best high you can get without breaking any laws.

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of illuminating studies on the brain chemistry of love. Specifically, she found that the same brain chemicals (that is, massive amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine ) are in play, and many of the same brain pathways and structures are active when we are falling in love and enjoying a cocaine-high…

9/7/2012, New love or drug use? It’s all the same to your brain

He’s right to say it this way, too, because love itself is an addiction. That explains why we become obsessed with a new love, why breaking up is so tough, why we drunk dial our exes, why we stay in relationships long after the thrill is gone…

New love follows the same course. It feels good, so we want more. Any reminder of our lover can spark motivation to be with them. And then one night we find ourselves in flagrante delicto on the hood of a 2003 Ford Focus.

Our pre-frontal cortex (PFC), may try to tell us that risking arrest for indecent exposure is a bad idea, but it has to shout over the appetite being generated by the brain’s reward system. That system can be so powerful it can effectively mute the PFC…

Whether the stimulus is love, or drugs, the brain adapts. It physically changes, reconfiguring the mesolimbic dopamine system. In addition, a stress-related neurochemical called corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) rises.

“Liking” changes to “wanting.” Rather than a positive motivation, we’re now under the thumb of “negative reinforcement.” A drug addict no longer likes the drug, he wants it. “What you are worried about is feeling terrible when you are not on the drug,” Koob says…

10/13/2010, Love really is like a drug

Intense spells of passion are as effective at blocking pain as cocaine and other illicit drugs, a team of neuroscientists say. Tests on 15 American students who admitted to being in the passionate early stages of a relationship showed that feelings for their partner reduced intense pain by 12% and moderate pain by 45%…

The study went on to investigate whether distracting the students also reduced pain by giving them simple mental tasks, such as naming sports that do not involve a ball. The brain scans showed that while both love and distraction reduce pain, they appear to act on different pathways in the brain.

“Love-induced analgesia is much more associated with the reward centres. It appears to involve more primitive aspects of the brain, activating deep structures that may block pain at a spinal level: similar to how opioid analgesics work.”

He added, “One of the key sites for love-induced analgesia is the nucleus accumbens, a key reward addiction centre for opioids, cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The region tells the brain that you really need to keep doing this.” …

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