Adrenaline junkie: what drives you to seek thrills?

An “adrenaline junkie” is someone who enjoys participating in activities that trigger the release of epinephrine. What is commonly called an adrenaline rush. She often likes to participate in thrilling, exciting or intense activities. Terms for them include “thrill seeker” and “daredevil”. Adrenaline junkies engage in a range of activities, including extreme sports, thrilling experiences, and dangerous activities.

What is adrenaline?

When a person is scared, excited, or emotionally charged, their body produces the hormone epinephrine. The adrenal glands, which sit just above the kidneys, produce this hormone. The spinal cord and some central nervous system neurons also produce epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for the fight or flight response that occurs when a person senses or perceives that they are in danger. This hormone triggers the air passages in the body to dilate, allowing the muscles to receive higher levels of oxygen. This extra oxygen allows people to “fight” the danger or “run away” from the situation. Epinephrine also causes blood vessels to constrict, allowing the body to redirect blood to major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs.

This hormone can also trigger many other reactions in a person’s body, including

– increased heart rate
– sweat
– decrease in the sensation of pain
– increased awareness
– the refinement of mental concentration
– increased strength

After the dangerous or stressful situation has passed, the effects of epinephrine can last for up to an hour. An adrenaline junkie who enjoys the feeling that accompanies the release of epinephrine will sometimes chase that feeling away. This is why he often takes part in exciting or exciting activities like:

– extreme sports, such as snowboarding, downhill mountain biking or motorcycling
– exciting activities such as skydiving, white water rafting or bungee jumping
– ride roller coasters and other rides
– participate in hobbies such as diving with sharks or chasing storms

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Adrenaline Addict: A Special Psychology

An adrenaline junkie likes to seek out activities and experiences that trigger the release of epinephrine. He may feel compelled to take part in these activities, which often pushes him to go further. When a person is going through a stressful or intense experience, the amygdala releases the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. Noradrenaline rushes can lead to extreme happiness or euphoria. According to a 2009 study, norepinephrine may be a key factor in a person’s addiction.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that this unconscious need for stimulation can affect the way a person behaves on a day-to-day basis. An adrenaline junkie can therefore create drama in his life to trigger his body’s reaction to stress. There are few studies on why people like risky activities. However, some research shows that personality type may play a role in whether a person becomes more inclined to take risks.

A 2013 study suggests that risk takers are more likely to have a personality that exhibits traits of low conscientiousness combined with high extroversion, high neuroticism, or both.

Withdrawal symptoms when you have to get off adrenaline

Despite this, some studies show that people who feel compelled to participate in epinephrine-fueled activities may suffer withdrawal symptoms if they avoid these strong experiences.

A 2016 study showed that eight climbers experienced withdrawal symptoms after going for a period without climbing.

The research said their symptoms were consistent with existing addiction literature. Their withdrawal symptoms included:

– the desire to go rock climbing
– less interest in activities other than climbing
– negative emotions, such as frustration, agitation and restlessness

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A 2017 study indicates that people with a compulsion to specific actions can reduce tension, stress, or anxiety by performing them.

Risk management

There is no inherent risk in leading an exciting life. However, if a person’s risky behavior starts to spiral out of control, they should talk to a medical professional. People should seek help if their risk taking is real:

– puts their health and well-being at risk
– cause distress
– preventing him from fulfilling his professional, domestic or other responsibilities

A mental health professional could help a person manage their compulsion for these activities. It can also help him improve his behavior, making him healthier and less dangerous.


Castanier, C., et al. (2013). Who takes risks in high-risk sports? A typological personality approach [Abstract].

Heirene, RM, et al. (2016). Addiction in extreme sports: An exploration of withdrawal states in rock climbers.

Koob, GF (2009). Brain stress systems in the amygdala and addiction [Abstract].

Kwako, LE, et al. (2017). Neuroclinical framework for the role of stress in addiction.


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