Grief, love and addiction

On Being‘s blog draws a link between “complicated grief ” (a potential new DSM-V diagnosis) and addiction.

UCLA researchers found that grief over losing a loved one can take an extreme form of bereavement, stimulating the part of the brain normally associated with reward and addiction. This is called “complicated grief” and the name alone gives more weight and depth to our varied experiences of loss.

I’m more and more convinced that addiction is the result of multiple neurobiological factors and trauma shares some of those factors. There are so many parallels when listening to an addict discuss their first experience with their primary drug and trauma survivors describe their traumatic experience—multisensory details, their instrusive nature, the emotional arousal and its resistance to cognitive challenges.

2 thoughts on “Grief, love and addiction

  1. Very interesting. I am personally convinced that I was born an addict, but I do agree that people reach addiction through different avenues.

  2. I’m with you. I just think the two problems share common neurobiological mechanisms.

    For example, if there are 10 neurobiological mechanisms to alcoholism, maybe compulsive gambling shares 4 of them, maybe PTSD shares 5, maybe compulsive eating shares 5 and maybe love shares 3.

    I just think this offers an interesting way to think about the relationship between drug and alcohol addiction and these other problems that are often compared to drug addiction. It offers a way to think about it that doesn’t dismiss similarities but also maintain that there are differences, so that the term addiction isn’t watered down to the point of meaninglessness.

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