Love and Drugs

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Source: The Daily Beast

Fear is dark but my love is a lantern
Shining up like coins in a fountain
Hope is a tree sitting on a mountain where the grass don’t grow
There’s a sad old sea but my love is an island
Wild and free like the hills in the highlands
Hope is a breeze that brings me back to dry land
Where the flowers grow

Love is a baby born
Love is the last unicorn
Love is the only song I’ll sing

Love is a fireside
Warm on the coldest of nights
Love is the only song I’ll sing
Love is the truest of words
Love is the last winter bird
Love is the only song I’ll sing
     – Coins in a fountain by Passenger

Love is beautiful. It is power. It is life, and the whole world revolves around it. When you skip the friend-like or family-based show of love, and focus on the love that dances around two people “in love”, it’s almost magic. Like the song above and the many others that centre on the infinite powers of love, the image of love is spelt out like something out of Neverland – romance. It paints a picture of sparks and fluttering butterflies, and buries us deep within the ultimate illusion of all time. However, as far as this kind of heart-gripping and fire-burning idea of love is concerned, the line between love and drugs is closer than you think.

Think about it. What are the effects of drugs? Anxiety, depression, violence, embarrassment, altered heart rates, high blood pressure, altered perceptions, messed-up realities, loss of money, and so much more. Most of which, are the same effects of infatuated love. Love has probably caused more fights and more imbalance in the world than drugs. In romance, we tend to be victims of our own optimism, and that is an altered perception of its own. A lot of us have done stupid things for the idea of love, and as far as loss of money is concerned, we’ve been there.

Largely speaking, the term “drug” is used for any chemical substance that alters your brain’s chemistry, affects your feelings and perceptions, or changes the way your body functions. Whether we accept it or not, romance is as addictive as Nicotine, Cocaine, or Heroine, and it occasionally causes the same results. Inasmuch as this uncanny relationship seems metaphorical, research shows that love actually has the same effect on the brain as drugs and booze combined. Walking on the high of cloud nine, is almost the same as walking on the high that comes with externally induced substances.

Source: YouTube

MRI scans have shown that the brain reacts to infatuated love and the obsessive drive of same ‘limerence’, the way it reacts to drugs. Basically, a number of chemical substances are released to the brain when infatuation or romance is felt. Psychologist, Helen Fisher, has one of the most comprehensive discoveries on the correlation. Her research explains that when “in love”, our brains become active in regions that have Dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter and initiator of pleasure. Similar to the euphoria associated with use of cocaine or alcohol, it activates the pleasure part of the brain and activates the area that is associated with pursuing and even acquiring rewards.

Other chemicals at work where romantic love is concerned, are the hormones of Oxytocin and Vasopressin. Oxytocin deepens feelings of attachment and makes couples feel closer to one another, usually after having sex. It is responsible for bonding. Vasopressin, as well, is linked to behaviours of long term relationships. These hormones are also responsible for a lot of the irrational things people to do maintain relationships – “He’s bad for me, but I can’t let go.”

At the initial phase, these chemicals fill our brains and cause it produce responses like racing hearts, sweaty palms, anxiety, passion, and so on. In fact, the same areas of the brain that get busy when the brain ignites with the feeling of euphoria and love, are the exact parts that light up when hard drugs are taken. The addiction that is found in obsessive desires can, however, be viewed in various ways. It is a necessary evil when a person finds another person and falls or lives in love. The chemical inducing response would be in ensuring that the happiness felt continues over time. In this case, stability grows, and the overly intense euphoria dies down to make room for stability and long term cohesion. As such, the levels of the intense chemical substances reduce.

However, where logic constantly keeps being defied, and there is a force to maintain the same high for as long as possible, that’s where you can say a person is literally drunk in love. This is where people get stupid for love, struggle to stay no matter what, and drown in an illusion that can completely get one blind. Being with somebody that’s wrong for you could be love, but most times, it is as a result of your addiction to the dopamine that your brain releases to you. The fluttering butterflies in your stomach and the vibrations that move within your body isn’t love; you’re just legitimately high.

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