Adrenaline is better known in the medical field as epinephrine, a crucial hormone for our bodies. Although it helps improve our physical performance, too much can be harmful. One thing it can lead to is addictive behavior, and this is where adrenaline addicts come into the picture.
Adrenaline addicts immerse themselves in a life of constant adventure. They experience euphoria, which gives them an intense desire to take things to the limit. The amount of adrenaline that runs through their veins makes them do all sort of risky activities. In many cases they’re even reckless and life-threatening.
Our bodies produce this chemical in the adrenal glands when we’re in situations of stress, excitement or nervousness. Some of its functions:
- stimulates the heart and speeds up breathing rate
- speeds up heart rate
- stops intestinal movement
- dilates the pupils to sharpen vision
- brings in glucose from the body’s reserves to enable muscles to respond quicker
- increases blood pressure, so that primary blood vessels widen and the secondary blood vessels narrow
One result of these physiological responses is that your blood is oxygenated faster, carrying oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body. Another is that you will get pale. The veins in your face, hands, and ears are left with less blood flow since they’re not so important.
The line between euphoria and addiction
How do you feel after riding a roller coaster? Before getting on, you’re probably nervous. But when you get off (if you’re not dizzy), you feel a wonderful sense of euphoria. The same thing happens when you’ve spent a night dancing or done something that you were really excited about. It’s also the same feeling you experience after great sex with your partner.
As we can see, adrenaline helps us adapt to our environment in many different ways. It prepares us to face extraordinary situations in the best possible way. However, pleasant sensations can also be really dangerous. This is due to the fact that the secretion of adrenaline generates chemical effects in the body that are very similar to those of an orgasm.
The production of epinephrine stimulates the release of dopamine, a substance that induces a generalized sense of well-being. Therefore, the desire to feel this way all the time leads some people to do risky activities and become adrenaline addicts. The hormone becomes addictive when a person needs to experience it continuously and regularly.
Adrenaline addicts: different forms
The forms that adrenaline addiction take vary quite a bit. The only thing they have in common is that they take your brain constantly to its limits. In addition to extreme sports, people look for euphoria by turning to prohibited, illegal or illicit activities. Stealing from the store, leaving without paying at restaurants, annoying and harming people…
Another thing adrenaline addicts do is to live their lives on the edge. They always take risks instead of playing it safe. They may leave everything to the last minute, like paying bills, delivering reports, or seeing a doctor. It’s a rebellious way of life and keeps your body on alert.
Adrenaline addicts love to take part in activities that endanger their life. Base jumping, wingsuit flying and bungee jumping are extreme sport that can end a person’s life in a matter of seconds. In fact, base jumping is the most dangerous activity in the world, with a death rate of 1 in 2300. It may sound fun, but it might also be masking an addiction.
Symptoms of adrenaline addicts
Adrenaline addicts have an extreme urge to experience certain sensations. They come from the secretion of epinephrine, and manifest in behaviors and emotions such as:
- An incessant search for adrenaline. The need to experience that feeling of pleasure and euphoria is uncontrollable and makes them push themselves to the limit on a daily basis. A lack of constant well-being bothers them.
- Behavior that can endanger other people’s lives (extreme sports, driving at high speeds, hurting others etc).
- A deterioration in relationships.
- Negative impact in their jobs (absenteeism, poor performance etc).
According to traditional psychology, when you are addicted to a substance, you are trying to fill an internal void. When you give your body an injection of extra energy, then you calm down this urge. This calm, however, is superficial and momentary. The dependence on adrenaline increases and, in the end, the addict constantly needs more.
If a person puts their life at risk to satisfy their need to “feel alive” then we would recommend they see a doctor. Psychotherapeutic treatment is suggested to better understand any hidden pain and frustration.