You may instantly reply with NO. I don’t jump out of planes or need to climb mountains and ride fast motorbikes. You may be addicted to adrenaline without even realizing it. A few examples:
• Are you constantly late so then you must rush?
• Constantly checking emails, social media and booking a tight schedule?
• You leave things to the last minute e.g. A project or preparation for work
• You set unrealistic timelines and must push yourself to complete.?
• Cleaning your house, doing your garden you over exert yourself and do too much in a short amount of time?
• Always busy, busy, push, push and no relief in sight?
If you answer yes to some of these, read on as you may be addicted and didn’t even know it.
How an adrenaline addiction starts…
Traumatic event or high stress –Life changing diagnosis (e.g. cancer), rape, abandonment, hard drug withdrawal, parents divorcing when your young, anxiety disorders, etc. There are plenty of things that could trigger the start of an adrenaline addiction – even a bunch of less severe, minor stressors.
For me I haven’t known life without adrenaline until very recently. I’m assuming my traumatic event was being adopted which of course I cannot remember because it was at birth. Regardless the flight, fight response was born in me and has been with me most of my life. I’ve been hyper, push, push and addicted to the high of that.
You become use to living with the rush of adrenaline and actually don’t know another way. You get hooked to the adrenaline flooding your body and unconsciously create ways to receive a hit. Eg running late
When adrenaline rushes through the body, it brings on a surge of power. Our temperature rises, our senses are heightened and for addicts, that initial feelings leaves them wanting more, more frequently.
Someone who lives their life “wired” may not know he or she has a problem, but life is often chaotic and stressful — and yet he or she thrives on the stress. Other warning signs of adrenaline addiction include:
• Drinking several caffeinated drinks daily
• Constant scheduling of appointments, meetings and events with little down time in-between, and always on-the-go
• Frequently causing drama between him or herself and others, or knowingly putting him or herself into stressful situations
• Takes on the image of a high roller/risk-taker
Your Senses all become heightened – hearing, vision, taste, smells, and touch.
Brain and body get conditioned to adrenaline – The sensitization of adrenaline is actually a heightened state of awareness. Your brains natural supply of chemicals becomes used up by the excess adrenaline and you are left to seek out external stimuli to keep the production going. You feel powerful when you receive a hit of adrenaline.
The Cost to you
You get busier and busier with no relief in sight. You push and push yourself and create situations to get a hit of adrenaline. Extended periods of stress will in time catch up to you and roll into chronic stress which will in time effect your health. You cannot live this way forever and something must give……………
You would have heard of adrenal fatigue, burnout where the body says NO MORE. Not allowing yourself to stop and just BE is a form of avoidance of yourself and stressful events that have happened in your past that you haven’t healed.
How to overcome adrenaline addiction: An awareness that you have this and an understanding why. Being honest that your hooked and you want to change it. By the time you get to this point your realizing the cost to yourself and your family. And be very patient with yourself. I’ve been working on this for at least 2 years, learning how to slow down and I certainly have a time to go where I can say I’m free of this.
Ways to overcome adrenaline addiction:
1. Exercise – While your body is pumping with adrenaline, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put the excess energy to use via exercise. Here’s where it gets tricky – if you go overboard, you may damage your body and/or cause further production of adrenaline. The key is not to overdo it.
2. Yoga Pilates –When done properly, it burns energy in the body, and relaxes the mind. When done consistently once or a couple times a week, it will help your body and mind start to relax. The relaxation may initially feel uncomfortable, but just keep pushing through it.
3. Self-hypnosis –self-hypnosis and/or guided imagery recordings. Begin with simply downloading some self-hypnosis. Helpful for the body to slow down and relax.
4. Deep breathing – Practicing deep breathing can be beneficial for consciously training your body to relax.
5. Meditation – Perhaps one of the most effective ways to improve your mental state and increase happiness, self-control, and reduce adrenaline is by learning how to properly meditate. There are many different types of meditation, so choose one that is aimed to help you relax. Most meditation types will help you relax and get you on the right track if you are consistent with your practice. Even 15 minutes a day before bed may help a lot more than you expect.
6. Stop stimulants – All stimulants will exacerbate this addiction and cause further problems. If you are serious about getting back to homeostasis and overcoming this addiction, you need to stop with chemicals and foods that are stimulating, coffee, Red Bull, etc.
7. Sleep – Aim to get plenty of sleep, go to bed at a reasonable time and wake up when you feel well rested. Don’t make yourself get very little amounts of sleep. If you are consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep, your cortisol levels will be greatly amplified. Research recommends 8 to 10 hours per night for adrenal fatigue.
8. Less electronics – Whether it’s video games, television, cell phones, or computer – when you have an addiction to adrenaline, electronics can make you even more amped up. If you cannot cut electronics completely for a while, at least minimize your time spent using them.
9. Diet – There are certain foods that lead to further production of adrenaline too. Try to eat a healthy balanced diet and limit excess carbohydrates. Too many carbs can cause a major insulin spike which will release more cortisol and adrenaline.
10. Relax – Something you may have to learn how to do. Start small and be patient with yourself.
Signs that you are overcoming adrenaline addiction
1. Automatically drift off to sleep – Perhaps the easiest way to know that you’ve overcome this addiction is by your sleep pattern at night. When you are truly done with this addiction, you will lie down and not really be able to control when you fall asleep. Your brain will automatically switch gears and the subconscious will take over as you drift to sleep. In other words, your brainwaves will shift on their own and you will NOT be able to stay awake at will.
2. More relaxed – You will feel less anxious and more relaxed in all situations. This relaxation may initially feel uncomfortable because you have been so sensitized to the adrenaline.
3. Carefree – Less things will bother you and you may not be afraid of anything.
4. Natural feeling – You will feel more natural in your thinking and physical abilities. You will feel less hyped up and more like a normal human being should feel.
5. Emotions – The increased production of adrenaline will have numbed you to the point where you forgot what it was like to experience natural human emotions. These emotions will slowly start to come back as your body slowly returns to homeostasis.
6. Desensitization – You will become desensitized to things like sounds, smells, sights, etc. You will no longer panic at hearing normal volume music – it will sound normal. You will be able to handle loud music without thinking you’re going to lose your hearing. You will be much less fearful and won’t panic at things that before would’ve induced the fight or flight response.
7. Relaxed body – You will begin to notice changes in your body like noticing when its tense and being able to relax it. Your body in time will begin to relax.
8. Relaxed mind – Lastly, your mind will start to slow back into normal mode. If you have had an adrenaline addiction for years, it may be very tough to transition. You may feel weird and not really like how slow your thinking becomes. Just go with the flow and try not to panic – things will get better.
9. Self-Awareness – Checking in with yourself that you’re not doing behaviours that feed your addiction eg. Unrealistic deadline
What caused the adrenaline addiction in the first place?
Only you know what lead to the addiction in the first place. Was it drugs? Was it some uncontrollable event? Was it a bunch of consecutive stressors and trauma? Sometimes self-analysis is helpful for closure. When you have finally overcome this addiction, raw emotion will come back that you may not be prepared to deal with. You will start feeling more natural, and initially you may feel a little depressed.
The adrenaline was like a drug for you, getting you through the day and making your life more exciting. When you take this away, you may notice that your motivation subsides, your energy lessens, your thought process is less organized, and you feel mentally slower. This is all normal – the whole key is to just let it pass and know that you are on the right track to becoming a healthier, authentic, human being.
Sometimes Counselling is needed to transition through this time. I have found Psychotherapy the most effective way to overcome this using Emotional Mind Integration. An extremely helpful and permanent way to heal disturbances and connect with your true authenticity and personality.