Love. Since the dawn of humanity, it’s tortured and inspired artists, driven good people to war, and has remained one of humankind’s favorite highs.
As magical as finding that special someone can feel, there’s nothing supernatural about it.
You’ve probably heard one of your more cynical friends say something about how love doesn’t exist. It’s a cocktail of chemicals in your brain. While they’re right in a technical sense, there’s something special about the chemical make up of love.
One of the symptoms of love is a high so powerful it’s like that of crack cocaine.
So what chemical aspect of love causes this immense high?
Drugs can force your brain to overproduce certain pleasure-causing chemicals, falling in love can do the exact same thing. All without any of the potential medical and legal hazards.
What Is Love?
First, it must be established that the rush associated with love usually comes from brand-new romance.
Love may seem grande and untouchable. But, that spark can be boiled down into a handful of neurotransmitters.
These include dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, and oxytocin.
Dopamine is known more commonly as the pleasure chemical. It’s a natural endorphin that can relax your body and relieve pain. When it comes to love, it’s what causes you to feel that floating euphoric feeling when you first fall for someone new.
On top of that, dopamine can cause dilated pupils and perspiration. That fluttering in your chest can also be chalked up to dopamine as it can even make your heart-race.
Dopamine has also been known to cause cravings. So you can blame it for your desire to spend every waking moment in your lover’s arms.
Norepinephrine, like dopamine, can make your heart race when thinking about your new lover.
It can also give you a boost of energy, while also making you lose your appetite and desire for sleep. That distracted feeling that has you tossing and turning at night and picking at your lunch can be blamed on norepinephrine.
Besides giving you a little extra energy, norepinephrine can also make you more alert and focused. Especially when in the presence of the one you love.
Phenylethylamine, or PEA, is often referred to as the libido hormone. It’s another natural endorphin that makes people feel happier and can even make people feel more attached to each other.
What makes PEA a powerful agent in making people fall in love is its ability to boost sex drive.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the cuddle hormone because its release is often triggered by touch or sexual interaction.
While a hug from your significant other will flood your brain with oxytocin, thinking about them can cause the same reaction.
Oxytocin is also known to impair mental processes and memory, which is why you can feel a little bit dumb when you’re first lovestruck. It is also why hugging or kissing your partner can help resolve arguments faster.
As with any other drug, your body can become accustomed to the release of dopamine, PEA, and oxytocin. This is why you may not feel that same addictive, euphoric high after spending a few years together.
People are not drugs, you can’t raise your dosage of a specific person to achieve that same high. This is why many relationships end after the first two years or so.
But don’t despair, you don’t have to break up once that lust-high fades. If the initial chemical shock has been replaced by real love, that could open the door to a wealth of different mental and physical health benefits.
What Makes a High
Falling in love may seem very different than smoking crack.
Foremost, lust is not a controlled substance and falling in love is not illegal. Aside from that, while it is possible to die of a broken heart, love is a lot less likely to be fatal.
What brings these to two together is their ability to flood your body with neurotransmitters and, in turn, get you high.
Cocaine, like love, forces your body to produce an excess of dopamine and norepinephrine. This is what creates that euphoric and hyper-focused high that can be irresistible for some.
Smoking crack can even heighten your sex drive the same way new lust does.
But, unlike love, the high achieved from the use of crack cocaine doesn’t last all that long.
The high achieved from finding love can last anywhere from a couple weeks to a few years. Alternately, a cocaine high will usually only last a few minutes depending on how you ingest it. Then, it’ll leave you wanting more.
On top of the short high, crack cocaine could also come with several negative side effects. These can include severe tooth decay and damage to your blood vessels which could lead to a heart attack.
The worst long-term side effect of falling in love? There’s a chance you could put on a little extra weight. But ultimately that’s just more for your partner to love.
The Symptoms of Love
Falling in love gives you the same sort of high that comes with drugs like cocaine. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind that there can be some downsides to the high.
Being high can cloud your judgment. You wouldn’t try to make any massive life changes while high on a drug. While you may feel inspired to do something drastic, you’ll wait until the high fades to act.
It may be tempting to drop everything and follow your new partner to the ends of the earth while you’re high on love. But, once your brain stops pumping you full of dopamine you may feel a different way.
Your partner could break up with you while your brain is still filling you up with a pleasing blend of neurotransmitters.
If this happens you could experience something beyond a normal heartbreak. You could end up experiencing withdrawal symptoms, like any other addict.
The Love Drug
The symptoms of love aren’t all that different than those of being high on crack cocaine. But, the high you get from being in love not only lasts longer, you may get a lifetime of happiness out of it.
Falling in love is also 100% legal in the United States. So you’re free to get a hit off whoever gets you high whenever you like.
Looking for more easy, fun, and legal ways to get high?