Breakups: A Cocaine Addiction Taking Over
In my previous post titled: “Falling in Love is the Best High You Can Get Without Breaking Any Laws”, I went in depth about how strikingly similar falling in love is to the euphoric feeling of smoking cocaine.
Amidst all the similarities in brain structure and side effects, one different factor is that cocaine is a temporary fix while “falling in love” can persist for a longer extended period of weeks, month and sometimes years.
Now now…let us not assume that falling in love will be our legal cocaine dosage forever. The euphoric feeling does not last forever as eventually, our rationality returns and those nights of being able to stay up all night on the phone, staring madly into each other eye’s, waiting for his every text message…..it all wears off (psychologytoday.com).
There are two things that happen to couples: they either stay together forever or break up. If you have yet to watch the famous YouTube video called “Strangers, again”, I recommend it! The YouTube channel, Wong Fu Productions, directed a video clip of the stages of a relationship. At the end of the video, they become “Strangers, again” and it all ties back to the idea that people meet, fall in love, get bored and then become strangers again (or get married and stay together forever, but, in this case, that did not happen). The video link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSdELZxEnHY.
Burning pictures, Facebook stalking, spending days in bed sobbing, eating loads of ice cream and crying to sad love songs in the car….these are a few of the aftermaths of a romance ending. Likewise falling in love is like being high on cocaine, falling out of love is like experiencing the withdrawals of a cocaine addiction.
Stony Brook University conducted a study in which they utilized 15 heartbroken men and showed them two separate pictures and had them proceed on with completing a math problem. The first picture showed was of their ex-lover and the second picture was of someone they knew, but not in a romantic light. Researchers noted the certain areas of the brain were much more active when showing the picture of their ex and those areas of the brain were the same active areas that set cocaine addicts on fire from their withdrawal symptoms.
Similarly, a study recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology conducted a study in which they performed MRIs to record the brain activity of 15 female and male college students who have recently been dumped from a long-term relationship. All of these 15 students described themselves as being “absolutely and very intensely in love”.
These partcipiants were shown pictures of strangers and then pictures of their ex lovers. When shown pictures of their ex lovers, high levels of dopamine were released which is similar to showing a crack addict a picture of cocaine. The nucleus abbcumbens and prefrontal cortex (related to intense addiction to cocaine and cigarettes), the ventral tegmental area (related to feelings of romantic love) and the insular cortex and anterior cingulate (related to physical pain) were also stimulated.
Dr. Lucy Brown, an author and clinical professor or Albert Einstein College of Medicine, states that romantic love produces the same effect as being high off of cocaine, and it also produces the same feeling of withdrawal as a cocaine addiction.
However, she notes that falling in love and being addicted to love is a natural process of life. She further goes on to explain that although breaking an addition to romantic love is challenging, it is possible. Much similar to breaking an addiction to cocaine is difficult, but very much doable.
“An interesting perspective is that romantic love is the natural, original addiction. Nature gave s this addiction, and in a sense we need it. It protects us…[when dealing with a heartbreak] you have to let the unconscious processes in your brain help you to heal. Time will change things.” Dr. Lucy Brown informs CTV’s Canada AM.
Tying back to the story I shared in my last post, although my parents were correct about how falling in love rips us of our reasoning and could potentially be a “dangerous” thing, the pros outweigh the cons. For us to deprive ourselves of romance simply because we fear rejection and heartbreak would be a foolish action. Life is all about going through experiences and coming out of them with more wisdom and maturity. Falling in love is a task we should not avoid. For us to force ourselves to stay single for fear of relationships being a distraction would be us hindering our own selves from growth. Of course, we should all take precaution and be wise in who we invest our heart into; however, with time management skills, a cautious mind and the confidence to follow our hearts, romance can be a beautiful thing (and not send us to rehab like a cocaine addiction).