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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen it – an article suggesting that it is love that addicts need and lack of love and connection that causes addiction. The case made seems compelling.

    There are some things we know to be true. We know, for example, that addiction is not just a biochemical process. There are famous studies and heaps of anecdotal evidence that show us that some people can use like fiends for a long period and seem in every way addicted, then suddenly stop using. Most of the heroin abusing veterans who returned from Vietnam fit into this category. When they came home, they didn’t need the heroin anymore and walked away from it. Yet others came back terribly addicted. This and a great deal of neuroscientific evidence suggest that the brain is changed by addiction. Indeed, the latest research shows that the brains of addicts become co-opted such that addicts cannot make healthy decisions. They are stuck on the treadmill of addiction. Yet these studies too leave us wanting, as they do not fully describe the addictive experience.

    A recent NPR piece notes:

    Data like these suggest that addictions, although they no doubt interact with neural chemistry, can’t adequately be understood alone in neuro-chemical terms. And this is because it is people, not brains, that get hooked. To understand the actions of addicts, you need to look at their lives as a whole. When doctors claim, as they do, that addiction is a disease of the brain, they are saying something that is either trivially true (that the brain plays a role in addiction) or something entirely false (that the brain is the whole story).

    A new theory is out now suggesting that, “Addiction is caused by isolation. And the cure for addiction, it follows, is love. We need to give the addict back his or her feeling of connection to others.”

    This theory, like the others, is at least partially true. Addicts are overwhelmingly isolated and isolating individuals. They skulk around and curl up in corners to lick and hide their wounds. I had one addict share with me the other day, “My life is sitting on my couch shooting dope all day.” The question then is, if addicts were more loved and more connected, would they recover more easily?

    The answer is yes and no. In my experience, addicts who seek treatment and have the positive support of family and friends have distinct advantages over those who do not have that kind of support. Individuals who have children can also be more motivated than those who do not, especially if the children are still in the home. So there is some definite truth behind the idea that love is a necessary ingredient in addiction recovery.

    But addiction is a complex disorder and part of the issue is nearly always pain or trauma. Addicts have most often been hurt in debilitating ways and don’t know how to deal with those hurts. Drugs make the pain tolerable or numbs the addict out altogether. “The remarkable and striking thing about many addicts is that they opt for self-medication over encounter — they turn inward and shut out the world,” reports NPR.

    The NPR article continues, citing the work of Mate Gabor:

    One reason love might not be all you need is that it could be that the wounds that lead us to turn to drugs, to really give ourselves over to drugs, might have their roots in our early lives. It’s hard to simply “get over” early childhood trauma.

    In short, while we would like to believe that there is a straight and logical path to addiction recovery, there isn’t. Addiction is a complex disorder that includes neuropsychological changes, biochemical disruption, and interpersonal chaos. It is often accompanied by co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD. Thus, addiction recovery must address all these issues: the biochemical, neurological, psychological, and so forth. Love is certainly part of that process, but it isn’t all you need.

    Psychology Today/April 3, 2015
    Art: Pinterest
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. malsat
    I certainly feel that, if there weren't certain factors keeping me isolated, I would not be using drugs. I use to try to enable myself to connect with others and to block out the pain that my isolation causes.
  2. cren
    Its a vicious cycle of isolation. I ilsolate myself so I can use drugs then I use drugs because I am isolated. But I think the isolation came before drugs in early childhood. Isolation is a way of coping.
  3. senorlou
    I've noticed that people who live in or move to more isolating places seem to use more, if they can, and whatever they can get. When I was getting loaded, I was very isolated. Worked and used, that was it. Found a woman and got married, now I've quit everything, so there we see the power of love.

    I used as a teen, and not again until my late twenties. It was bad experiences that made me want to at both points. Doctors gave me pills in my late twenties. I got hooked and that was my life for a long, long time. Great topic.
  4. detoxin momma
    I think love does conquer addiction.for some anyways.
    I guess its all up to the individual and what they see as important.

    there are countless stories of people who stop using their drug of choice to save their families.
    then again their are just as many scenarios where a person loses everything because they won't stop using.

    for me the answer is yes,love does conquer addiction.when I first met my husband I was still using heroin.it wasn't my drug of choice,but a drug I'd do with certain friends.

    I was instantly very attracted to my husband.
    and when he told me how repulsive he found heroin to be,it was like a light bulb went off in my head,and I knew I would never want to do anything he found repulsive.

    so I never even considered touching the drug again. his love was far more important.

    but not everyone feels that way.for some addiction trumps all.and that's a shame.

    I'm a firm believer in pro's and con's....when the cons out weigh the pros,be done with it.
  5. john123470
    If only life were so simple. It’s all very well until the situation changes or one becomes bored with one’s situation. What about all the wives / husbands at end of their rope with their partners re their addictions ?
    One might as well claim that ‘love’ drove their addiction.

    If you are a recovered/ing addict, having loving support will certainly be an aid to remaining drug-free but is by no means a guarantee.
  6. senorlou
    I know what you mean. I've seen friends marry, have bad experiences, and get into really dangerous drugs. Love, or the end of it, could be just as dangerous as anything.

    In my case, I thought taking drugs from a psychiatrist was ok. I was on benzos daily. My wife worked in a care facility with mental patients. I took her to work. I got to see what my future was going to be if I kept on that road. So it was more than love, and there were other things too, but because I married someone who understood my problem with benzos, etc. I was lucky as hell. I know I'll probably be vulnerable for a long time. So, it wasn't like I found the perfect person and all my problems were solved. Took almost three years from when we hooked up to when I stepped off my benzos. Long, long process and still in it. One month benzo free, no weed, no opiates. Wouldn't have even tried to get clean if not for my wife. I was way too high to care.
  7. Beenthere2Hippie
    Learning to love myself turned my life around. Till then, no matter what I thought or did, nothing really made me feel happy or secure. I had little to offer another person when I didn't like or care about myself. Somehow my want for a better life led me to realize that I had to be my own best friend before I would possess enough inner strength--and real love--to care about and share my love with others.

    Lucky me, I met a man who both mesmerized and suited me a few years later, and we've been happily married for 12 years since come June. Love of self is key, at least for me, in being a person worth loving.
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