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Obsessive Love is a Process Addiction

By Jim Hall, MS, Love  Addiction Recovery Specialist

Most people typically associate addiction with alcohol or drug abuse, but it's clear that addictive behaviors go far beyond.

A universal definition of addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance, behavior, or activity despite negative consequences (harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life) (NAPS)- and often accompanied by physical or psychological dependence, withdrawal syndrome, and tolerance.

In theory, addiction can be derived from any rewarding behavior and is believed to be strongly associated with the brains reward center. although with continued use the goal is not so much to induce pleasure as it is to relieve the anxiety caused by the absence of the addiction, causing it to become used compulsively.

Purpose of any Addiction

People use addiction as a way to cope, to fix situations and feel better. Addictions may block out sensations of pain, uncertainty, or discomfort. It may create powerfully distracting sensations that focus and absorb attention.

It may enable a person to feel "okay" about some insurmountable problems. It provides an artificial, temporary feeling of security or calm, of self-worth or purpose or accomplishment, of power and control, or intimacy or belonging.

Addicts use addiction to:

  • Take away emotional pain
  • Feel good about the self
  • Fill internal emptiness
  • Escape loneliness
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Feel connected
  • Feel a sense of self; 'alive'
  • Feel a purpose in life
  • Emotional regulation/coping mechanism
  • Block out realities


Two Types of Addiction: Process (behavioral) Addiction and Substance Addiction

Addiction/Dependence does not have to be limited only to substances; even activities and behavioral patterns can be considered addictive.

Most of us are aware of the ingested addictions like alcohol, drugs, food, etc.---but many are less clear on this other aspect of addiction called the Process addiction.

A "Process" addiction is an addiction to a way of living, a behavioral addiction affecting cognition and emotions.

Process addictions are an addiction to self-defeating behaviors.

Examples of a Process Addiction: Shopping, gambling, Internet addiction, computer addiction, sexual addiction, pornography addiction, eating, work addiction, and of course... Love addiction, Relationship Addiction, Obsessive Love-- IS a Process Addiction.

Like any Process Addiction, the consequences of love addiction are progressive and predictable.

Too often love addicts stay stuck in deep denial and minimize negative consequences that are happening.

The desire for the same rush from a person tends to lead to escalation.

Shame and guilt increase, as the lifestyle becomes inconsistent with personal values, beliefs, and spirituality.

The truth is the longer love addiction is denied, the more serious the consequences become.

For those who continue the process of love addiction, the consequences are sure to continue.

Example's- Consequences may include the loss of:

  • Intimacy
  • Authenticity
  • Connection
  • Joy
  • Freedom
  • Fulfilling Love Relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Abandonment of Self
  • And many more

Whatever the addiction, one thing is for sure... Recovery is possible!

You can learn the in's and out's of this process addiction in my book The LOVE ADDICT in Love Addiction


Join thousands of others... Love Addiction Recovery Newsletter


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