Have you watched the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab?
I'm not much into watching reality shows, however, I recommend viewing Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, as the show displays some of the very tough challenges of breaking addictions. In its 4th season, Celebrity Rehab represents eight patients being treated for their addiction ranging from alcohol to drugs, and of course, love addiction (the reason I am writing about this).
There are no doubt tens of thousands of people who watch this show, never hearing of love addiction, and think, "That's ridiculous, love and addiction? How could love be an addiction? Please!" When I first first heard of people being "love addicted", my reaction was the same. It does sound kind of odd that love and addiction can blend as one type of addiction.
One patient of our interest on Celebrity Rehab is Rachel Uchitel, identified as having love addiction by Dr. Drew Pinsky, MD, the shows Therapist and Addiction Specialist. Last year, Rachel Uchitel's face was splashed all over the tabloids as one of the other women in the Tiger Woods scandal. Now she's back in the news as a participant in VH1's Celebrity Rehab.
Rachel Uchitel up to this point of the show (week of December 2010) seems resistant, nervous and anxious and also very apprehensive about being identified as love addicted with a bunch of hardcore drug and alcohol addicts.
What Uchitel admits, and like all love addicts in their addiction do, is mistake intensity for intimacy and I mistake that for love. For love addicts, having a meaningful and healthy (and what is truly fulfilling) relationship that's calm and without high intensity is actually uncomfortable, feels 'weird', and even feels boring. Love addicts as well as their addictive lovers cause a ton of drama. Addictive lovers only know how to connect through --but deep inside they truly want to connect with is that they are lovable, valuable, and accepted no matter what; without any fear of being abandoned. What they fail to see is they need to learn (only through recovery) to be acquainted with deep inside is, "I am safe. I am lovable. I am valuable. I accept me. And if my partner ever leaves, I am still these things- no matter what". Addictive lovers if they are to become healthy, need to connect with their own personal inner preciousness as a human being. When this happens, authentic relationships with others will develop.
Resistance and apprehension is quite common when someone is trying to find out what their issues are, even more so when love addiction is identified as the culprit. Shame and embarrassment often can make them run and avoid getting help. Unfortunately, running from the problem halts them from facing the real core issues. When they run from the addiction and therefore themselves, they just continue the same patterns over and over and over again. They tell themselves, "I'll change", "next time it will be different" but it never is until the running stops.
When people first learn of their love addiction and feel shame or embarassment, they need to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarasssed about. Embarassment is a feeling everyone lives with at times. Shame is part of the actual problem. These feelings cause the love addict to ignore the problem, and cannot be allowed to dictate which direction to go. Acceptance is critical if love addicts are to break through their toxic and painful patterns of love addiction. Acceptance is not easy, but with acceptance, they'll see that it is a destructive addiction like any other. Once they see the commonalties, it will aid them to begin getting better.
In an interview with reporters after the show was completed, Rachel Uchitel said, "When they approached me, and they approached me a few times, I was like, "Absolutely not! I'm not an addict and I'm not enough of an actress to pretend I'm an addict. Addiction to me was something involving meth, cocaine, heroin and I thought it was ridiculous to suggest I might have a love addiction. I didn't even know what that term meant and I thought it sounded ridiculous."
She continues, "What I've come to realize is that love addiction hasn't been recognized in the addiction community. I think it's the most common addiction that people suffer from and yet the least common addiction that people talk about or give credibility to. I hope one day people will recognize love addiction as a real addiction. Just like they've come to understand that alcoholism is a disease. It's not a moral issue, it's a condition."
It's not a moral issue, it is a condition worth taking seriously!
I give Uchitel a lot of credit for sharing these words and to actually be willing to let the public view some of her experiences. I believe Celebrity Rehab is serving the public and those who watch it by bringing awareness to various types of addictions. I'm pleased that love addiction is finally getting some recognition on a national level--to facilitate insight that "love" (like alcohol, gambling, or drug addiction) can truly be addictive. My hope is with more recognition of this problem, it will help to dissipate the shame of being love-addicted, which so many hold onto in secret, sabotaging the opportunity to break free and make positive changes.