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Adrenaline Junkies: What Drives Them

by Beth Divine 19 Oct 2018
It doesn’t seem sensible to perform acts that might result in our deaths – and doing this for mere thrills is even more ridiculous. Isn’t it? Maybe not.

An adrenaline junkie is a person addicted to the thrill of the adrenaline rush: the exciting, pleasurable effect produced when the adrenal glands dump a large dose of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The adrenaline rush usually occurs when the body senses danger, the "Fight or Flight" moment. Your heart rate increases, pleasure-giving endorphins are released by the pituitary gland and your breathing rate ramps up. The result of all this extra oxygen, energy and hormones is the adrenaline high, a euphoric feeling that can last for hours.

The adrenaline rush wears off after a time and is as addictive as any drug. The signs of an adrenaline addiction are not as obvious as you might think. A true adrenaline junkie may easily fill their life with drama and conflict instead of extreme sports. They may argue or pick fights just for the rush associated with the experience. Adrenaline junkies can also become more reckless in their everyday lives, putting themselves and others at risk for no reason, save the need for another jolt of adrenaline. To a real adrenaline junkie, the rush from manufactured stress is just as good as one from sports, so why bother going outside? The people you meet on the slopes, or in an airplane prior to jumping out of it, may refer to themselves as an adrenalin junkie, but since they are getting their rush in a relatively healthy manner, they are unlikely to be an actual adrenaline junkie.

In today’s world, where courage has been criminalised to a certain extent, and any risk is frowned upon, it is only in the world of the adrenaline junkie that people can feel that frisson of fear and determination that makes dangerous pursuits so addictive.

[Some parts of this article first appeared here:]