What’s an adrenaline junkie?

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The release of adrenaline during times of stress can be addictive, leading to thrill-seeking behavior in extreme sports or high-risk jobs. Adrenaline junkies may struggle with maintaining relationships and a normal lifestyle due to their constant need for danger and drama.

During times of extreme stress, fear or anxiety, the human brain often signals the release of a powerful stimulant chemical known as epinephrine or adrenaline. This sudden rush of adrenaline is designed to give the body a boost of strength and awareness during a “fight or flight” situation. Once the immediate danger has passed, the average person’s body will slowly return to normal levels and the additional hormone will be absorbed and eliminated. This rush can bring with it some of the same satisfying effects as other drugs, however, some people can actually become addicted to the natural “high” they experienced during the event. A person who craves the release of adrenaline and is willing to resort to extreme measures to obtain it is commonly referred to as an adrenaline junkie.

A typical adrenaline junkie is often associated with the world of extreme sports. Participants in activities such as auto racing, skydiving, and bungee jumping face the very real possibility of serious injury or death, but these sports also elicit the desired fight-or-flight stress response that some people crave. Every time an extreme skydiver or BASE jumper jumps out of an airplane or runs off the edge of a cliff, he triggers a rush of natural hormones and chemicals that make him feel completely alive. He or she may feel depressed or unmotivated in their daily life until the opportunity comes to do something that defies death. Essentially, a true adrenaline junkie lives their life at level 10 or level 0.

However, extreme sports aren’t the only arena these folks thrive in. A person with a thrill-seeking personality often seeks employment that involves a high level of risk or drama. He or she may take on a job that requires extraordinary courage or risk-taking, such as a firefighter, police officer, or professional soldier. The stress and thrill of rescuing a trapped passenger from a burning car or pursuing a suspected criminal could provide the same kind of rush as an extreme sport. Taking on a dangerous assignment or volunteering for dangerous tasks allows him to live life to the fullest.

One concern many people have for the overall well-being of a true adrenaline junkie is their constant need for danger and drama. Friends and family often find it difficult to maintain a normal relationship with this type of person, and he or she may have conflicts with others simply because of the haste associated with the argument. Others who cannot keep up with the person’s edgy and anarchic lifestyle may find themselves marginalized or abandoned. An adrenaline junkie’s lows are often as deep as his highs, which can make maintaining a normal, functional lifestyle extremely difficult. If the person is not killed or seriously injured in the active pursuit of their next high, then they may be exhausted by the effects of a reckless lifestyle.

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