Evolution has prepared human beings with effective ways of coping with danger and dealing with stressful situations. Adrenaline a hormone excreted by the adrenal glands is one of the most important survival mechanisms flooding the bloodstream nearly instantaneously and preparing the body's "fight or flight" response.
A reasonable amount of adrenaline is beneficial because it keeps us alert and helps us focus during stressful times. However some people who become addicted to the adrenalin "rush," compulsively engage in dangerous experiences without regard for the risks which may be physical mental social financial or legal. People who seek out such experiences are typically known as adrenaline junkies or thrill seekers.
Adrenaline junkies are compelled to engage in high-risk activities such as rock climbing car racing parachuting white water rafting or bungee jumping. Sensation-seeking behavior doesn't always involve sports however and people who crave excitement and danger may pursue careers in the military or as firefighters or police officers.
Possible hidden adrenaline addiction: 'Drama queens'
Adrenaline seekers may also be high level executives who deal with constant pressure. Thrill-seeking behavior can also include people who tend to be in constant crisis or conflict often known as "drama queens.'
Adrenaline junkies are in danger of their lives
The obvious result of an adrenaline addiction is extreme danger to life and limb especially when the behavior becomes more reckless with each passing day. Adrenaline junkies may also experience increased stress damaged relationships heart trouble stomach problems high blood pressure and insomnia.
Adrenaline junkies are also prone to drug and alcohol addiction. The progression from thrill-seeking behavior to substance abuse is a relatively small step drugs and alcohol stimulate release of dopamine a similar “feel good” chemical associated with intense pleasure.
Like all addictions adrenaline addiction is difficult to stop when tolerance develops and addicts require more and more to stop the cravings and achieve the next high. Addicts may wonder how their lives became so out of control and chaotic they promise friends and family they will slow down usually without success.
Coping with an Adrenaline Addiction
Self-help techniques may moderate cravings for high risk activities. For example try deep breathing mindfulness meditation or gentle exercise. Also avoid caffeine energy drinks and other stimulants and try to get enough sleep every night Keep in mind that you may feel a little depressed at first.
However in spite of all best efforts adrenaline junkies frequently need professional help especially those who struggle with depression or other mental illnesses or when substance use is involved. Drug and alcohol treatment or rehab is often beneficial and individual counseling or therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT) can help thrill seekers learn to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more constructive ways of dealing with life.