Is there a real difference between love and addiction?

A colleague brought up an interesting topic for discussion the other day. He asked the simple question, “Is love the same as addiction?” This is one of those questions that, on the surface, I believed I had thought of before, though I honestly never entertained the comparison.

So, what is it then? Innately, our concept of love is a positive thing. Things we love are things that are good for us. Conversely, we interpret an addiction as an attraction to things that are actually bad for us. You may read this and make sense of it, but that doesn’t make what I just stated objectively correct.

The actual truth is that addiction is, in fact, a facet of love. Not all love is addiction, clearly, but all addiction stems from love. This is crucial for many of us to grasp as we seek ways to maintain positive and healthy relationships.

When defining addiction, it’s important to point out that it is characterized as a chemical dependence. When we don’t have the thing that we are addicted to, we feel a physical withdrawal. Many people tend to experience this in situations associated with love, such as breakups or long-distance relationships.

This is all to say that our approach to love and relationships should always cautiously appreciate the potential for an unhealthy addiction. Whether we are dating someone with whom we become increasingly dependent on, or when grow too close to someone that we know we shouldn’t be with, understand that the solution to some of these problems can’t always be willpower.

For the same reason dropping an addiction cold turkey can be insurmountable, so can leaving an unhealthy relationship behind.

Love and addiction may not be the same, but what happens when you’re in love with an addict? In the following webcast, Dr. Anthony Centore Speaks with Kim and Matt Matone, who talk about what to do when you’re in a relationship with, or married, to an addict. If you only want audio, visit our Soundcloud page!

If you’d rather listen to the audio version, see below:

With all of that said, are love and addiction the same? Not always, but they share many significant qualities.