How to Beat Adrenaline Addiction
Adrenaline is a naturally occurring hormone that your body releases when you experience an intense emotion, or when your "fight or flight" response is triggered. This can result in a rush or "high," which can become addictive for some people.If you often feel under-stimulated in your life and find yourself compulsively engaging in thrill-seeking behavior (such as extreme sports or putting yourself in dangerous situations), or always looking for a new or novel experience, you may have an adrenaline addiction.
Recognizing an Adrenaline Addiction
Identify the symptoms.Because your body produces adrenaline, it may be hard to become aware of the addiction. The best way to see if you have an adrenaline addiction may be to actually stop all activity and see how you feel. If you normally go rock climbing or BMX racing, hold off for now. Shut off your electronics, take some time off of work, and try to spend a day or two just relaxing — can you do it? Adrenaline addicts may experience withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in novel, stimulating, or high-risk activities.
- Do you often feel bored, restless, or under-stimulated? Do you find yourself bored with what normal people would consider intense or stimulating experiences?
- Are you drawn to "extreme" sports or activities? This may include rock climbing, bungee jumping, skydiving, riding a motorcycle, racing cars, skateboarding, MMA fighting, traveling to unsafe areas, snowboarding, or anything that could be considered a dangerous or risky activity.
- Are you in a particularly dangerous line of work or a high-stress position, such as a firefighter?
- Are you willing to take major risks to your health and safety to experience something novel?
- If this sounds like you, you may have an adrenaline addiction.
Admit you are addicted.Like any addiction, change cannot be initiated until the addict admits that they have a problem. Not only do you need to admit that you have a problem, but you also need to have a sincere desire to fix the problem.
- Once you have acknowledged the problem and you have decided to fix it, do not hesitate to get support from a therapist to help you recover from your addiction.
Seek support from peers.Let your peers, coworkers, and family members know that you are trying to overcome your addiction. They can encourage your efforts and help keep you accountable.
- Say, for example: "I have realized that I'm taking a lot of risks with my health and safety because I'm looking for an adrenaline rush. I am trying to learn to meet this need in a healthy way, and would appreciate it if you help me refrain from any dangerous activities."
Talk to a therapist.A therapist can help you identify and confront underlying issues that are causing the addiction. Underlying issues can range from self-esteem and self-confidence issues, to traumatic experiences, anxiety disorders.Your therapist can also help you make lifestyle changes to channel your thrill-seeking behavior into constructive and positive activities and manage symptoms of withdrawal.
- Adrenaline addiction is not totally understood. It is possible your adrenaline addiction was not caused by an incident, but simply means your brain processes stimuli differently from those who prefer more stability and structure.
Exploring Your Options
Exercise.When you begin to feel the adrenaline coursing through your body, one of the best things you can do is exercise. Exercise may allow you to dispense the excess energy that is a result of the adrenaline rush; however, you must be careful not to over-exercise.
- Limit your exercise to a 40-minute maximum, and do a combination of weights, i.e., strengthening exercises, and cardio. Aim for three 40-minute workouts per week.
- Yoga is a great exercise because it burns up excess energy and relaxes the mind when done properly and consistently.
Meditate.Meditation will help you relax and improve your sense of happiness and control. Therefore, by learning how to meditate properly you may be able to reduce your body’s production of adrenaline. There are a variety of meditation techniques, so pick one that is aimed at helping people relax.
- Meditate for 15 minutes in the morning and before you go to sleep.
Use deep breathing techniques.Deep breathing techniques are great for curbing your adrenaline and regaining control in the moment. When you feel that your adrenaline is spiking, slow down and focus on your breathing.
- Stop what you are doing and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Inhale through your mouth. As you exhale, let your shoulder and upper body muscles relax. Then, slowly inhale through your nose while thrusting your stomach out. Hold your breath for a one or two seconds. Exhale through your mouth while sucking your stomach in. Repeat this technique until you feel relaxed.
Try self-hypnosis.Self-hypnosis and/or guided imagery is helpful for people who have trouble falling asleep at night because of adrenaline spikes. You can purchase hypnosis downloads specifically for adrenaline addicts, or you can listen to guided sessions on YouTube for free.
- Download the self-hypnosis tapes onto your phone or iPod, or simply look up videos on YouTube. When searching for videos on YouTube type in the search bar, “relaxation hypnosis,” “relaxation meditation,” or “guided imagery for sleeping.”
Check out neurofeedback.Neurofeedback, also called EEG Biofeedback, helps some patients overcome their addiction. Neurofeedback helps to re-set the natural rhythms in the brain. When your brain's natural rhythms are re-set, you are able to change behaviors and thoughts more easily.
- Contact a neurofeedback trainer or professional in your area. A typical session lasts 30 minutes. The professional will place sensors to your head which are attached to a special software that reads brainwaves. You will then be given relaxing music to listen to. When you hear a skip in the music, this is the machine re-setting the natural rhythms in your brain.
- You may also be able to experiment with biofeedback at home. A biofeedback device may help you feel calmer in just 15 minutes.
Using Additional Strategies to Beat the Addiction
Limit your adventure-seeking.As an adrenaline addict, you may find yourself craving to participate in activities that are high-risk or of a more extreme nature — say, cliff jumping or skydiving. To beat adrenaline addiction, limit how often you partake in these thrill-seeking activities. Work with your therapist to determine the best way for you to deal with these cravings, such as going for a run or engaging in biofeedback.
Avoid stimulants.Stimulants exacerbate any type of addiction, including adrenaline addiction. If you are serious about overcoming your addiction you will need to wean yourself off of and eventually stop consuming chemical and food stimulants.
- Stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, sugary foods/candy, cocaine, Adderall, and other stimulating substances should be avoided.
Reduce your use of technology.For adrenaline addicts, technology is also considered a stimulant. While it is not feasible to cut technology from your life completely, you can reduce the amount of time you spend using electronic devices. Therefore, significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone and computer, watching TV, and playing video games.
- Stop using your electronics one hour before your sleep so you can fall asleep without distractions.
Sleep at regular times.In order for your body to function properly, it is recommended that you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. It is also important that you go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day. Consistency allows your body to actually relax while you sleep.
- If you sleep for six hours or less every night, your cortisol and adrenaline levels will amplified throughout the day.
Maintain a proper diet.Eat a balanced diet of protein, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. Try to steer way from processed foods and choose more natural foods instead. A diet that mainly consists of carbohydrates can increase your cortisol and adrenaline levels.
- Your meal should consist of a third of fruits and vegetables, a third of protein, and a little under a third of carbohydrates. Try to eat at least two portions of fish per week.
Stay hydrated.Drinking an adequate amount of water each day is also a part of maintaining a healthy diet. Keeping your body hydrated will help it process the adrenaline out of your body. It is recommended that men drink 13 cups (3 liters) and women drink 9 cups (2.2 liters) of water per day.
Video: Wing walking is for people with an adrenaline addiction
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