Can You Get a DUI From Marijuana in California?

man pulled over in car by police

man pulled over in car by police


Some proponents of legalized marijuana praise states, like California, for making the drug available to people over a certain age for recreational use. While there may be benefits to the legalization of marijuana, much like alcohol, we can’t assume it’s completely harmless.

Alcohol might be legal for people over the age of 21 in the U.S., but it’s addictive. There are health risks of alcohol use, and it can lead to legal trouble. Marijuana has similar risks. 

One issue that many states are dealing with is what happens when people drive under the influence of marijuana.

More specifically, can you get a DUI from marijuana in California even though it’s not an illegal drug? The short answer is that it’s similar to drunk driving, but it’s more complex than that.

People don’t realize that not only marijuana but also prescription medications can lead to a DUI. A DUI for marijuana impairment is a criminal offense with potential legal consequences, including a restricted license and several months in jail. 

Below, we’ll detail what to know about the effects of marijuana in general and how it can affect you if you’re behind the wheel. We’ll also look at driving while high consequences you should be aware of, like a marijuana-related DUI. 

Marijuana’s Legality in California

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in California. There was the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996. In 2016, voters approved Proposition 6, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Legality doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all.

There are regulations even though marijuana isn’t an illicit drug in California. For example, you have to be 21 or older to buy or possess recreational marijuana. This law includes all types of cannabis products, such as edibles. It’s against the law to give or sell marijuana to minors, and it’s also illegal to drive under the influence.

Marijuana laws are similar to prescription drugs. Just because you have a prescription for a medication, you can still get a DUI if it alters your driving ability. 

You can’t smoke, eat or vape cannabis products in public, and you can’t consume it anywhere smoking is illegal, such as in bars.

The Effects of Marijuana

Using marijuana creates immediate and longer-term effects. There’s an ingredient in marijuana, THC, that causes the feeling of being high from cannabis. THC is a psychoactive ingredient. When you use cannabis that contains THC, effects can include:

  • A release of dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria and a heightened sensory experience
  • THC affects the hippocampus in the brain, leading to memory problems or an inability to form new memories
  • Impairment of judgment. Your information processing is different because of THC, affecting your judgment compared to a sober person
  • Slow reaction time, including problems with balance, motor skills, and coordination
  • These effects are why it’s dangerous to drive after using marijuana
  • Respiratory side effects can occur from smoking marijuana
  • The influence of marijuana may lead to a weaker immune system that leaves you vulnerable to infection


Drugged Driving

Driving under the influence of any mind-altering drug is one of the main reasons for car accidents. According to the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, when you use marijuana, it significantly affects motor coordination and reaction time, as we mentioned above. 

There is a direct relationship between the concentration of THC in your blood and impaired driving ability.

Marijuana is the drug most frequently found in the system of drivers in motor vehicle accidents. 

In two studies out of Europe, drivers with THC in their system were around two times as likely to be at fault for a fatal crash than drivers not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Analysis of other studies shows that the risk of being in a motor vehicle crash after you use marijuana can double or more than double.

Under California Vehicle Code, you can be arrested and charged for driving under the influence if you use marijuana. Marijuana impacts your mental abilities to the point that you wouldn’t drive with the same level of caution as someone who didn’t use marijuana.

How Much Marijuana Shows Impairment in California?

Here’s the tricky part about whether or not you can get a DUI from marijuana in California—THC can stay in your system for up to 30 days. You don’t feel the effects after a few hours, but if you were pulled over and drug tested, it could show THC metabolites, even from weeks before. Metabolites are left behind well after the influence of cannabis wears off mentally, leading to a false positive. 

As it stands currently, there isn’t a per se violation for a marijuana DUI in California. That means no level of THC is illegal or a standard presumption for your level of impairment. By contrast, with blood-alcohol levels, typically, anything over a BAC of 0.08% is an impairment. 

If a police officer were to pull you over and they suspect you’ve been using marijuana, they would have to gather further evidence to prove stoned driving. 

Evidence might include an odor of marijuana, how you’re behaving, and how you perform on a field sobriety test. Your driving conduct, statements you make, and the presence of marijuana in your vehicle might also be evidence.

Driving behaviors that show impairment to a law enforcement officer include:

  • Not stopping at a red light or stop sign
  • Swerving
  • Weaving in lanes
  • Driving slowly
  • Being asleep in your car

Drug Recognition Experts or DREs are specially trained law enforcement officers who identify physical symptoms and signs of intoxication. If an officer pulls you over and they have probable cause to think you’re driving while impaired, then they’ll require you to submit blood testing or a breath test.

Of course, for marijuana, a breath test isn’t effective. Primarily used for marijuana are blood tests or urine tests.

If you take a drug test, it can’t show when you last used marijuana. These tests for marijuana aren’t good indicators of how much marijuana you used or blood THC concentrations. We don’t have a consensus on how much marijuana in your system shows you’re impaired like we do if there’s the presence of alcohol in your system. 

That’s when the evidence would become relevant. The process is different from if you were drinking and driving when your blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration would be the most relevant factor. 

What Are the Penalties for a Marijuana DUI Conviction?

Suppose you go to court and receive a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana. In that case, the penalties in California are the same as what would happen if you were guilty of drinking and driving.

In California, penalties for a first-time DUI conviction involving marijuana or another substance can include 96 hours in jail up to six months and a $390-$1,000 fine. You may have a six-month driver’s license suspension, and you could be required to participate in a drug education class.

In most cases, a DUI involving marijuana is a misdemeanor, but certain circumstances can elevate it to a felony. For example, if you’re using marijuana and you cause an accident with serious bodily damage or death or have multiple DUIs, your DUI could become a felony.

A felony DUI conviction can include up to 180 days in jail and a four-year license suspension. You may face probation for up to five years and have to participate in a drug or alcohol education class.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, can you get a DUI from marijuana in California? 

The answer is yes, you can, and people do. Driving under the influence of any substance, including marijuana, is illegal and has negative consequences. The consequences of driving high are similar to the penalties of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Not only are there legal penalties, but if you use marijuana and drive, there is an accident risk. Fatal accidents often involve the use of substances, including marijuana. 

For chronic marijuana users, it can be a tricky situation. You could have marijuana in your system from weeks prior. If you get pulled over and take a drug test, this will still show up. You likely have to work with a defense attorney to prove your driving abilities weren’t affected if that happens. 

You can recover and still have a very fulfilling life after getting a DUI; the more support you have-the higher your chances for success. If you’re struggling with marijuana or substance use, please know that help is available. Call the helpline at Anchored Tides Recovery today – 866-600-7709.

What is a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery?

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery


What is a spiritual awakening in recovery? Spirituality is one of the more misunderstood elements of addiction treatment and recovery, but often one of the most important. We encourage everyone to explore spirituality in a way that works for them, both during treatment and throughout their life. 

Your spiritual journey and spiritual practice are likely to become something you rely on throughout your life, well after you go to addiction treatment. Active addiction affects your spirit in so many ways, and you might not even see those effects right away. You’re never truly present or in the moment because you always feel the influence of drugs or alcohol. You might feel like you have no worth because of your addiction and like your only purpose is using drugs or alcohol.

You get lost in your addiction without the chance to experience your emotions. The process of recovery often goes hand-in-hand with the spiritual awakening process. Learning how to start your spiritual awakening can be so challenging because it looks different for everyone.

We’ll explore below what we mean when we talk about a spiritual awakening in recovery and how that can happen for different people regardless of differences in their belief systems. 


What is a Spiritual Awakening?

A spiritual awakening isn’t something you experience exclusive to addiction recovery. Awakening can happen at any time in your life, regardless of your circumstances.

You often experience something profound or on a deeper level that leads to a breakdown of your ego. You may feel a tug or call toward deeper mental awareness. The result tends to be a personal transformation along with a shift in how you see yourself and the world around you. For many of us, a spiritual awakening comes after a catalyst in our life.

If you’re going to addiction treatment or struggling with a substance use disorder, the realization that you’ve hit rock bottom or are not in control of your drug use can be that triggering event. It’s usually that initial realization about the true depths of your substance abuse that many people say is the hardest part of recovery. You have to see for yourself the impacts of your addiction on every area of your life before you reach any kind of deeper spiritual awareness. Awakening doesn’t always stem from addiction.

For some people, it’s a traumatic experience such as surviving an assault or abuse, or maybe the loss of a loved one. When you go through something traumatic, it affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may go through an extended period of healing but emerge on the other side of that in a more vital place spiritually. If you have depression or a mental health disorder, it can lead you to what we call an existential crisis. You start to look more at the purpose of your life, and you may want a shift due to that assessment.

You can engage in practices through your daily life that might also activate an awareness or awakening. For example, mindfulness and meditation can be a way to transform yourself on a spiritual level, even without a major life event happening. According to Deepak Chopra, when you experience an awakening, you’re not in a dream world anymore. 

Instead, based on Chopra’s framework, you are aware of yourself but only in a way that puts you within the context and connection of everything else. This period is also sometimes called enlightenment or nirvana.



How to Start Your Spiritual Awakening

The process of how to start your spiritual awakening is deeply personal, so below are only suggestions, but you may find a path that’s entirely your own.

  • Start to observe and notice. Many of us go through our lives on autopilot. We don’t think about what we truly want, who we are at our core, or why we’re at a particular point in our lives. When you become aware and observant, you’re better able to make changes then. For example, this might be when you question your drinking or drug use and start to delve more into why you’re doing it.
  • Develop a sense of connection. Specifically, as it relates to addiction and recovery, that sense of connection can come from participation in a support group, like a 12-step program.
  • Let go of attachments. We all have extensions that aren’t relevant to our true selves. You can begin to eliminate whatever those are through your awakening.
  • Find inner peace. When you cultivate inner peace, things still go wrong in your life, but it doesn’t lead you down dark paths. Instead, you learn how to cope with things as they go wrong effectively. When you’re experiencing things that aren’t pleasant, you recognize them as a fleeting moment in time.
  • Feel more compassion and empathy. When you’re participating in an addiction treatment program, you’ll start to learn more about how your substance abuse affected the people around you. This is an excellent starting point as you begin to become more empathetic and compassionate in all areas of your life.
  • More authenticity. You’ll start to grow into someone who feels your self-worth on a deep level. That will allow you to be more authentic in who you are.

The final step in an awakening of your spirit is that you’ll be happier and healthier. You’ll be able to thrive in your life rather than just surviving in your recovery process. 


Spirituality in Recovery 

In many ways, having a successful long-term recovery from addiction relies on spiritual growth taking place. You have to change your perspective to be in recovery. As part of treatment for substance abuse, you can begin to identify and reconnect with the aspects of your life that are most important to you.

Spiritual power can become your most incredible tool for healing, personal growth, and having a thriving life. You can develop a sense of purpose, and at the same time, learn that you’re not alone.


Spirituality Is Not Religion

We often hear from people who worry spirituality is about God or religion. However, it’s important to note that you do not need religion or a belief in God to have a spiritual experience, although you certainly can get your spiritual power from God. A true awakening in the spiritual sense is about having your own beliefs and developing your sense of self that connects you to everything else in the world in your everyday life. You can give credit to whatever force or power you choose.

Are you ready to begin learning how to start your spiritual journey? We encourage you to reach out and learn more about our addiction treatment programs. We prioritize spirituality in whatever terms work for you. Your spiritual life is very personal, which is how Anchored Tides Recovery develops our addiction treatment programs as well, call 866-600-7709 to learn more. 

Support starts here. 

Is Drug Addiction Genetic?

genetic predisposition

genetic predisposition


Is drug addiction genetic? Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? These are common questions you may have, and while there is a genetic component, which we talk about below, we also urge caution here. Genetic predisposition factors are just one risk factor for substance abuse, as other chronic common disorders are actual. Genetic studies are increasingly shedding light on the science of addictive disorders. 

Just because a close relative struggle with addiction doesn’t mean you automatically will as well. Having a genetic factor doesn’t make addictive disorders any less treatable either. Understanding the role of heredity and vulnerability to addiction is essential from a scientific and research standpoint and uncover the root causes of addiction. However, genetic risk factors don’t have to be a deterrent to you getting effective help if you are active in addiction.


What is Addiction?

A substance use disorder or SUD means you uncontrollably use a substance despite harmful consequences. Illicit drugs, alcohol, or tobacco are substances that lead to addiction. Some of the most common types of addiction include cannabis use disorder, alcohol addiction, cocaine addiction, and opioid addiction. 

Over time, as the addiction continues without treatment, it affects your daily functionality. The SUD creates problems in your relationships and most other areas of your life. You may experience changes in your behavior and thinking. The brain’s structure changes, and you may have intense cravings for the substance you have an addiction to. Your personality might change. Imaging indicates addiction can lead to changes in the parts of the brain that relate to decision-making, learning, behavioral control, memory, and judgment.

Symptoms of addiction or SUD can fall into one of four categories. These are:

  • Impaired control: Hallmarks of this set of symptoms include intense cravings to keep using drugs or alcohol. You may try to stop using or cut down on your drug intake but find that you’re unsuccessful.
  • Social issues: When you abuse substances, you may experience problems in your daily life. For example, you could find that you’re increasingly giving up things you once enjoyed to use drugs or alcohol. Substance use can affect school or work performance, and it tends to impact relationships.
  • Risk-taking: Drugs of abuse can lead you to do dangerous things. These risk-taking behaviors might happen to get more drugs or because of their effects on you. You’ll continue to use substances even though you realize they cause problems.
  • Drug effects: Physical effects stem from addiction. For example, you may notice you develop a tolerance. When you have a tolerance, you need more significant amounts of drugs or alcohol to get the same effects on your genetic predisposition you did initially. Another physical component of drug or alcohol abuse is withdrawal. If you stop using a substance suddenly and depend on it physically, you might have side effects.



Risk Factors for Addiction

The saying goes that addiction doesn’t discriminate. No matter your background, you can experience a substance use disorder, but some people are more likely than others to develop an addiction.


Environmental Risk Factors

Environmental factors can and do raise a person’s risk of developing a SUD. For example, if you grow up without parental involvement, you are more likely to experiment or take risks. If you experience neglect in your childhood, you might turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The risk of addiction could go up if you experienced trauma in your childhood, such as sexual abuse or physical abuse. Other ways your environment can raise your risk of developing a substance use disorder include:

  • If you face peer pressure from friends or your social circle, it can lead to experimentation with psychoactive substances.
  • When you’re in a group of people with access to substances, you might be more likely to try them.
  • The environmental aspects of addiction are essential to understand if you’re in recovery. You may find that you need to find new friends and avoid specific environments to reduce your risk of relapse.


Other Co-Occurring Disorders

A dual diagnosis means you have an addiction and another mental health condition. If you struggle with psychiatric disorders, like depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder, it can be a factor for addiction or raise your addiction risk. 

Addiction can also increase the severity of symptoms you experience from a co-occurring disorder. It becomes a progressive and challenging cycle when you have a mental health disorder and an addiction since both are complex diseases. 


Early Use

The earlier you use drugs or alcohol, the more likely you will develop alcohol use disorders or dependence on addictive drugs. When you’re young and expose your brain to drugs or alcohol, it affects its development. You may also be more prone to developing mental health disorders because of how substances affect your reward centers, levels of serotonin, and other parts of your brain chemistry. 

If you’re young and you begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol later in life, you could struggle to experience feelings of pleasure without substances. The early history of substance abuse shows a strong association with drug addiction later in life. 


Type of Drug and Method of Use

Certain drugs tend to put you at higher risk of the development of addiction. For example, addictive substances like heroin and methamphetamines have a higher risk of physical addiction than marijuana or alcohol. How you use drugs is relevant. If you smoke or inject drugs, addiction is more likely to occur than taking a drug orally.


Is There a Genetic Predisposition To Drug Addiction or Alcohol Addiction?

Now, we come back to the question of is drug addiction genetic? What is it in our genetic predisposition that could create an addiction vulnerability? Why do some people develop addictions and others don’t?

Family studies and identical twins show that as much as half of your risk of developing a substance addiction depends on your genetics. As we learn more about the role of heredity in addiction, it helps us understand the best ways to target treatment. It’s also helpful to overcome the stigma of addiction. For example, addiction in humans is a complex intersection between genetics and other risk factors, but it’s not due to a lack of morals or willpower. 

However, there’s not necessarily a single gene that we can pinpoint right now that determines addictive behavior. If you’re the child of an addict, you are eight times more likely to develop an addiction.

At the same time, we have to remember that if genetics make up 50% of your risk for drug abuse or addiction, the other 50% comes from things other than your genetic predisposition makeup, like your choices and how well you develop coping skills.

This complexity highlights the fact that genetics isn’t your destiny. You’re more than your genetics. You can increase your protective factors against addiction, like a healthy stress response and beneficial coping strategies. As there are growing advances in genetic testing, we may learn even more about heredity and addiction in future studies. We may also learn more about brain chemistry and how this leads to the chronic disease of addiction, impulsive behaviors, and drug-seeking behavior. 

For example, researchers recently uncovered that D2, a type of dopamine receptor, may eventually be used as a way to predict if you’ll become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Current studies show if you have fewer D2 receptors, you’re more likely to develop an addiction. The more we understand biology, the more personalized addiction treatments can become. This understanding of the predisposition to addiction is a big goal of addiction research overall right now. 

Never let yourself get caught up in the thought process because you come from a family with a history of addiction that you have to repeat or remain in those same patterns. 

We also want you to know that while your genetic predisposition could have increased your likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are steps you can take in your life to achieve recovery. No matter your genetic vulnerabilities or background, addiction treatment can be effective. We encourage you to contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to learn more.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also known as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). FASDs include conditions occurring when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy leading to prenatal alcohol exposure. Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can include physical problems and issues with learning and behavior. While it’s devastating for your child to receive a diagnosis of FAS, it is preventable.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk about fetal alcohol syndrome, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. 


An Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby through the umbilical cord, potentially leading to alcohol-related birth defects and fetal alcohol brain damage. There’s not a known, safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should also stop drinking.

If you’re pregnant and drink, the fetus can’t process alcohol through the liver or other organs. The alcohol exposure is the same as the amount in your bloodstream, but exposure lasts longer for the baby. Prenatal alcohol exposure in human populations affects fetal development, especially in the brain and central nervous system.

Some of the ways prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to alcohol-related birth defects include:

  • If you drink alcohol, including hard liquor, beer, and wine, it can kill cells in the fetus that lead to problems with physical development and secondary effects. 
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the development of nerve cells, including how they travel to different parts of the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy constricts blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the placenta. The result of restricted placental blood flow can be a shortage of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
  • While your body processes alcohol, it produces toxic byproducts. These toxins can accumulate and cause structural brain abnormalities and other types of brain damage. 

Even before you know you’re pregnant, your alcohol intake could affect your developing baby or lead to secondary disabilities like alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. 


How Prevalent are FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?

Getting an overview of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment relies on understanding the prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. We use varying approaches to estimate how many people in our population might be living with the condition.

  • Using medical records primarily, studies from the CDC show a rate of 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 births in the United States. 
  • Recently, an epidemiological study by the CDC found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children between 7 and 9.
  • According to studies from the National Institutes of Health using physical exams, the actual range of FASDs in the United States and some countries in Western Europe could be as high as 1 to 5 per 100 children—around 1% to 5% of the population.
  • A study from 2020 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found patterns of maternal alcohol exposure and binge drinking in pregnant women between 18 and 44 in the U.S. went up from 2011 to 2018.
  • Having at least one alcoholic beverage among pregnant women in the past 30 days went up from 9.2% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2018.
  • Binge drinking (four or more drinks in a sitting) increased from 2.5% to 4% in that same period.


Symptoms of FASDs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a collection of diagnoses. These represent a range of things that can occur when a mother drinks during her pregnancy. The symptoms affect everyone differently. FASDs symptoms can also range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of fetal alcohol effects can include:

  • Poor coordination and motor skills 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems in school or with social skills 
  • Increased likelihood of defiant disorder or other mental health problems 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Low IQ
  • Intellectual disability
  • Sucking and sleep problem as a baby
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, bones, or heart
  • Being shorter than average in height
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities including a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, known as the philtrum


Diagnosing FAS

It can be difficult to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol exposure because there aren’t specific medical tests available or set guidelines for diagnosis. There’s also the issue of a differential diagnosis since many symptoms of FASDs overlap with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To  make a diagnosis, a doctor might consider:

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lower-than-average height, weight, or perhaps both
  • Abnormalities in facial features
  • Central nervous system problems like poor coordination and hyperactivity



Can FAS Be Treated?

The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong, but early intervention can help a child’s development. Treatments include medications and medical care for symptoms, behavioral and educational therapy, and parental training. Researchers also identified protective factors. These reduce the adverse effects of FAS on children and include a diagnosis before the age of six, a loving environment during school years, and an absence of violence in a child’s life. Using special education and social services is also a protective factor.

If you believe your child has symptoms of FAS, but you aren’t sure, talk to your health care provider, who can then refer you to a specialist for intervention services. Specialists include developmental pediatricians and mental health professionals like child psychologists. There are clinics throughout the country with staff specially trained in FASDs and can create individualized treatment plans. 


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment for Adults

Unfortunately, as we talk about above, there is no treatment for adults or children. FAS is lifelong. Many times, adults with FAS will have mental disorders and legal problems. Adults with FAS are more likely to be in jail or a mental health facility, facing unemployment. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult for an adult with FAS to live independently.

The earliest intervention possible in childhood is the best treatment for FAS that we have available now, although it’s not a cure.


Preventing FAS

Since there isn’t a cure for FAS, prevention of maternal drinking is the only available option. When you use alcohol during pregnancy, it’s the top cause of preventable congenital disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The only way to prevent your child from being born with FAS is to avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy altogether.

If you’re sexually active and not using birth control, you should also avoid alcohol. If you’re pregnant, it can take four to six weeks for you to know that, and during that time, if you’re drinking, you could be exposing your baby to alcohol.

It’s not too late to stop drinking if you’ve already had alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain growth and development continue throughout your pregnancy, so stopping as soon as possible is crucial. You should avoid alcohol during breastfeeding also because it can cause development, sleep, and learning problems, although there’s no direct link to FAS.  

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming pregnant, or you could already be, and you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. Again, we want to emphasize it’s never too late to stop drinking; Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Please reach out today at 866-600-7709.

Signs of Love Addiction

signs of love addiction

signs of love addiction


The signs of love addiction can be hard to spot at first. If you’re someone with love addiction, you may initially just see yourself as someone who loves love. While that’s not always a problem pathological love can lead to negative consequences and destructive relationships for some people.

There are similarities between love addiction and other types of addiction, including substances like drugs and alcohol.


Disorders That Occur Along with Love Addiction

Love obsession tends to be a co-occurring condition. When you have a co-occurring disorder, you have symptoms of two or more mental health conditions. For example, you might feel that you show signs of being addicted to love in addition to depression or anxiety. Substance abuse is also a relatively common co-occurring disorder with pathological love.

We should point out that this condition is controversial. Some experts feel that everyone has an element of “addiction” when they love someone. Romantic relationships can and often do have periods where you might feel emotional distress. However, a true compulsion to love goes well beyond what we see as usual in a relationship.

For example, if you’re in a relationship where you’ll give up everything else for that person, it could be a problem. The most significant complication of experiencing this type of compulsive romantic behavior is that you may find yourself in an abusive or toxic relationship.


What is Pathological Love?

Love addiction or pathological love isn’t as medically well-defined as some other types of addiction. When someone is experiencing disruptive or harmful symptoms or consequences because of their romantic relationships, their mental health care provider has to distinguish these from other conditions. For example, in borderline and dependent personality disorders, the symptoms can overlap with pathological love.

Suppose you’re someone with an addiction to love. In that case, you can become fixated on the person you’re interested in at any given time and develop emotional dependencies or a lack of control. You might behave compulsively toward or about that person. You can then act on unhealthy behaviors because of your fixation.


What Type of Disorder Is Pathological Love?

There’s not a current agreement on what type of disorder love addiction really is. For example, pathological love can be considered an impulse-control disorder. With an impulse-control disorder, you are always seeking new experiences and behaving impulsively to get them.

Some researchers believe pathological love is more in line with a mood disorder. For example, you have feelings similar to mania when you’re in the early stages of love or beginning a new relationship. Then, as the relationship progresses, you might experience symptoms of depression.

A third possibility is that being addicted to love could be part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. You may experience intrusive, repetitive thoughts just as someone with OCD would, but they’re about your romantic partner or finding love. Of course, as the name implies, having a compulsion to find love can be most like a behavioral addiction too, such as gambling; you don’t have to take a substance, but the characteristics are similar.

Early on in a relationship, you might have intense pleasure and euphoria. Then, over time, those experiences might become dull. You might need more of these love experiences to feel anything similar to a dependence on drugs and alcohol.



What is Sex Addiction?

Sometimes, we talk about sex addiction along with love addiction, it’s not currently in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Despite not being included in that, it’s still diagnosable.

This offshoot occurs when someone seeks out multiple sexual partners to the extent that it interferes with their daily life, activities, and functionality. If you have a sex compulsion, you might not be able to control your behavior, despite severe consequences. Your sexual relationships are your primary focus, and your sexual behavior can become more extreme over time. Sexual addiction can occur along with love addiction, but it doesn’t have to.


Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction

  • Always looking for your soulmate 
  • Constantly searching for an intimate relationship 
  • Thinking the intensity of sex or the newness of a relationship is the same as love or real intimacy
  • A chronic pattern of seduction, sex, or manipulation to get the interest of potential romantic partners
  • Having an intense fear of abandonment
  • Breaking promises to yourself about not returning to harmful relationships
  • Choosing partners that require a lot of attention or you to fill a caretaker role
  • Always needing to be in love
  • Being happiest during the so-called honeymoon phase of a relationship
  • Obsessing over the idea of romance or romantic interests
  • Putting romantic partners on a pedestal
  • The inability to be alone
  • Requiring emotional comfort from a partner and extreme dependency
  • Having cravings to be with your partner
  • Experiencing euphoria or emotional highs when you’re with a partner

When you begin a new romantic relationship, it’s normal to feel excited about being with the person, and you may miss them when they’re away. You may obsess over your partner to the point that it causes harm to your relationship or your well-being. You develop dysfunctional patterns. For example, you may seek out the affection of someone who isn’t responsive to you emotionally. You could also find yourself more likely to be in abusive relationships.


Why Do People Have Love Obsessions?

As is the case with other mental health disorders, including substance use disorder, the underlying factors of love addiction are probably complex. Again, we all need and desire to feel love, but what is it about some people that makes this problematic for them? Trauma, genetics, family history, and environment all probably factor in.

Someone with an obsession to finding love or keeping it may also stem from low self-esteem. For example, if you have low self-esteem, you may seek out your sense of self-worth from romantic partners. You could also deal with the signs of love addiction because you have abandonment fears from your childhood.

If you feel like you have an emotional void, you could use romantic partnerships to fill that. You may think that being in love brings value and excitement to your life. Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on your partner. You may not have boundaries, and you’re more likely to find yourself in a codependent relationship.


Love and Substance Abuse

As we talked about above, love addiction can and often does occur with other mental health disorders. You may be searching for love in unhealthy places. You might also seek the highs that love can bring, making you more likely to find similar experiences through substance use.

Additionally, if you have a relationship that falls apart or consistently in unhealthy relationships, you could cope with the negative feelings with drugs or alcohol. Over time, you may experience a void and a sense of shame. There are many elements of being addicted to love that you can’t fix on your own, but treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial.

If you or a loved one struggles with love or sex addiction along with a substance use disorder, we encourage you to reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team at 866-600-7709 to learn about our treatment options. We approach treatment holistically to help put you on the best path to recovery, a fulfilling life, and healthy relationships.