Are you a thrill-seeker, an adventurer, or a sensation seeker? Whatever it is you call yourself, there is only one thing that gets you going, and that is the adrenaline rush. The term adrenaline junkie became popular because of the movie Point Break (1991).
In the movie, an adrenaline junkie prefers high-risk activities because of the rush that goes with them. You are called an adrenaline junkie if you enjoy thrilling, exciting, and intense activities that give you an adrenaline rush.
You like the rush because of the neurophysiologic effect it brings. This becomes dangerous if you have the constant need to engage yourself in high-risk activities and think that the rush is the only way to relieve you of stressful situations.
What Is Adrenaline?
If your emotions are high, your body produces the hormone adrenaline. This hormone is responsible for increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Adrenaline sharpens your senses and makes you energetic.
Adrenaline plays an important role in your ability to cope with stress and danger. An adrenaline rush is a term used to describe the signs and symptoms experienced when the body produces adrenaline during heightened situations. This is the body’s normal response and an important survival mechanism when you are mentally and physically in danger.
Who are Adrenaline Junkies?
For you to feel motivated, you look for an experience that will give you enough stimulation and sensation. A person’s psychological mechanisms of motivation differ depending on certain personality traits.
An adrenaline junkie is someone who often seeks high anxiety sensations. Your desire to pursue adrenaline-pumping activities and exhibit risky behavior depend largely on your personality. Some people associate this rush and sensation with the feeling of elation from taking drugs. This is why it is called adrenaline junkie.
How Your Personality Affects Your Choice of Activities
There is no test to accurately determine if you are an adrenaline junkie. Different personality traits are drawn to different types of activities.
Thrill Personality Trait
This personality type likes activities that stimulate thrilling sensations and adrenaline rush. If you have this trait, you exhibit the following:
- You are open to change
- You like what’s new and complex
- You like challenges
- You are spontaneous and impulsive
- You are curious and creative
Having this trait, you are drawn to the following activities:
- Riding tall roller coasters
- Entering haunted houses
- Adventurous hobbies like shark diving, storm chasing, and BASE jumping
- Extreme sports like whitewater rafting and race car driving
You also have to remember that engaging in these types of activities can be life-threatening.
You become an adrenaline addict if you develop an addiction to the rush caused by your body’s hormones. You look for this kind of sensation in the same way as drug addiction.
Adrenaline addiction brings you to compulsively engage in dangerous activities without taking into consideration the physical, mental, legal, and financial consequences.
Adrenaline addiction is not considered a clinical disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, it can relate to a number of mental health conditions requiring treatment when the person displays uncontrollable and impulsive thrill-seeking behavior. Such mental health conditions are ADHD, PTSD, and substance use disorder.
This behavioral addiction is still not a valid psychiatric disorder. Peer-reviewed studies are not enough to support this claim.
Engaging in Dangerous Activities for Adrenaline Rush
Adrenaline addiction can manifest in different ways. Adrenaline junkies can engage in extreme sports, join thrill-seeking activities, or choose dangerous work.
Thrill-seekers enjoy extreme sports such as ice climbing and motorcycle racing. Sensation seekers join thrill-seeking activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, or downhill skiing. As seekers of high sensation experiences, they prefer employment in firefighting and emergency rescue response.
A study was conducted among eight rock climbers. In the study, these climbers who hadn’t climbed for quite some time experienced withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are similar to those felt by people who were substance abuse addicts.
The rock climbers felt many withdrawal symptoms. They longed to go rock climbing again. They were no longer interested in other activities besides rock climbing. Negative emotions such as agitation, restlessness, and frustration were also noted.
Understanding a Person’s Need for Stimulation
To be obsessed with the rush, you don’t have to go to extremes like being a skydiver or deep-ocean scuba diver. Without you knowing it, you are already experiencing the rush in your everyday life.
Are you the type of person who needs some form of stimulation to encourage you to start your day and get to work? A study shows that neurotic individuals create drama and problems just to trigger their body’s fight or flight response. This is done to trigger the rush and excitement as well as to soothe their negative mood.
If you are a top business executive or an investment banker, you always work under pressure. You feel the hype when you are always on your toes. Similarly, you feel adrenaline rushes when working on a project or assignment at the last minute, or you are almost caught stealing or damaging property.
If you have an adrenaline addiction, you find thrill and enjoyment in having a packed out schedule, an active social life, or taking pleasure in engaging in arguments for the possibility of picking a fight.
Health Consequences of Adrenaline Addiction
In the long run, serious health implications can develop when there is a persistent surge of adrenaline. The possible health problems include:
- Damaged blood vessels
- Risk for heart attack and stroke
- Weight gain
How to Manage Compulsive Risk-Taking Behavior
You want to live an exciting life, and there is nothing wrong with it. But, constantly putting yourself in stressful situations just to feel the thrill and excitement is not healthy in the long run. Here are the benefits when you can manage stress properly:
- When you associate excitement in anything you do, you eventually limit stressful activities and focus on differentiating a true crisis from a situation that is exaggerated.
- When you feel overwhelmed, you practice relaxation techniques to reverse your body’s stress response. You can do deep breathing exercises so you won’t feel the full negative effects of chronic stress.
Suppose you feel that you constantly crave high-risk activities. In that case, your risk-taking behavior is uncontrollable, and you cannot accomplish your daily responsibilities; it is time you seek professional help.
How Do I Stop Being an Adrenaline Junkie?
When do you know that it is time to stop being an adrenaline junkie? When you are constantly putting the safety of your life and the lives of others on the line, it is about time to rethink things. Here are some instances to consider when it is time to stop:
- You are behaving aggressively and picking fights with people intentionally
- You are driving fast alone or with passengers, exceeding the set speed limit
- You start stealing and damaging others’ properties
- You experiment with different alcoholic drinks for increased effect. The same goes for substance use.
- You lie and manipulate others to cover up risky behaviors.
Avoid constantly putting yourself in highly-stressful situations, for these can affect your physical and mental health.
How to Ensure Your Safety as an Adrenaline Junkie
Totally avoiding any activity because of the threats could make you frustrated or, worse, depressed. You feel less of a person because you are suppressing your desire to do what you love.
So, how do you remedy this situation? You can still feel the thrill by setting up certain restrictions. Here are some suggestions:
- Indoor rock climbing with a safety harness
- Car racing only on designated tracks
- Cage diving with sharks
- Indoor skydiving
You can overcome adrenaline addiction by following these steps:
- Recognize that you have a problem and be willing to get treated.
- Tell your loved ones that you want to get better to gain their support and encouragement.
- Be firm and create solid plans to improve your behavior.
- If you think you have severe adrenaline addiction, seek professional help.
The thrill and rush may not equal what you have been doing for years. But remember, you only have one life, and you have to take care of it. The thrill will only be for a few seconds, but any accidents can cause your life for a lifetime. You can still enjoy these activities in moderation. This is better than being handicapped for life and not doing it at all.
“Am I an adrenaline junkie?”, if you answered yes and it’s starting to affect your relationships negatively, or you’re risking your safety, then it’s time that you should do something about it. If you find yourself obsessing about your next adrenaline rush, you should consult a therapist.
A therapist can help identify the possible motivations for your behavior and help you develop new and better behavioral patterns. Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) can develop a one-on-one therapy session for you. This plan is tailored to fit your personal needs.
Preparing for emergencies and setting safety precautions while engaging in thrilling activities can be enjoyable and healthy. You have to balance your adrenaline addiction with enough rest, relaxation, exercise, and enough time spent with loved ones.