Love: The New Dope

Have you ever observed someone who always seems to be in “love” with one person after another? What about someone who always seems to go through a bad breakup with everyone they date?

In a recent study, published by the scientific journal PLoS ONE, strong romantic feelings were shown to decrease feelings of pain. The study was published by a team composed of Stanford University and State University of New York at Stony Brook professors.

The findings of the study, and this is the unique part, say that these strong romantic feelings work in the body to kill pain like painkilling drugs that work by working with opioid receptors in the body. (Drugs that come from the opium poppy work on opioid receptors. Think…morphine.)

Jarred Younger, one of the co-authors of the study, said of the findings, love activates “deep structures that may block pain at the spinal level—similar to how opioid analgesics work” and that “love-induced analgesia [painkilling] is much more associated with the [brain’s] reward centers.”

The opioid receptors of the brain often have to do with rewarding the brain for a number of things, including sex, orgasm, drug usage, and runner’s high. In fact, the mu and delta opioid receptors are associated with physical dependency.

So this begs the question, could that person who’s always falling in love just be a literal love “junkie”? Could that gal with the bad break-ups just be a person who suffers from horrible withdrawal symptoms? And if that’s true, can we learn to make better choices when it comes to falling in love and breaking up?

If you knew your love was a drug, would it change how you approached your relationships? What about how you ended relationships? Maybe you’d consider giving your recently jilted former lover “hits of your love” till they could work off their addiction? Or perhaps you wouldn’t be so quick to allow the relationship to go cold turkey? Could this be the reason why some ex-significant others never really move on? (Your love is too good man!)

You can read more about this on the Scientific American website.


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