An “adrenaline junkie” is a person who enjoys taking part in activities that trigger the release of epinephrine, which is commonly known as an adrenaline rush. They will often enjoy partaking in thrilling, exciting, or intense activities.
“Adrenaline junkie” is a term that describes these people, but it is not a medical definition. Similar terms include “thrill-seeker” and “daredevil.”
Adrenaline junkies enjoy a range of activities, including extreme sports, thrilling experiences, and dangerous pursuits. Keep reading to learn more.
When a person becomes afraid, excited, or emotionally charged, their body produces the hormone epinephrine.
The adrenal glands, which sit just above the kidneys, produce this hormone. The medulla and some of the neurons in the central nervous system also produce epinephrine.
Epinephrine is responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction that occurs when a person senses or perceives they are in danger.
This hormone triggers air passages in the body to dilate, allowing their muscles to receive higher levels of oxygen.
This additional oxygen allows people to either “fight” the danger or “flee” from the situation.
Epinephrine also causes the blood vessels to contract, allowing the body to redirect blood toward major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs.
This hormone can also trigger numerous other responses in a person’s body, including:
- increased heart rate
- decreased feeling of pain
- heightened awareness
- sharpening of mental focus
- increased strength
After the dangerous or stressful situation passes, the effects of epinephrine can last for up to an hour.
An adrenaline junkie who enjoys the sensation that comes with the release of epinephrine will sometimes chase this feeling. Therefore, they often take part in thrilling or exciting activities such as:
- extreme sports, such as snowboarding, downhill mountain biking, or motorcycle riding
- thrilling activities such as skydiving, whitewater rafting, or bungee jumping
- going on rollercoasters and other rides
- participating in hobbies such as shark diving or storm chasing
An adrenaline junkie enjoys seeking out activities and experiences that trigger the release of epinephrine. They may feel a compulsion to take part in these pursuits, which often drives them further.
When a person undergoes a stressful or intense experience, the amygdala releases the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. Bursts of norepinephrine can lead to extreme happiness or euphoria.
According to a 2009 study, norepinephrine could be a key factor in a person becoming dependent.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this unconscious need for stimulation can affect the way a person’s everyday behavior. An adrenaline junkie may therefore create drama in their life to trigger their body’s response to stress.
There are few studies on why people enjoy risk-taking activities. However, some research shows that personality type can play a role in a person becoming more of a risk-taker.
One 2013 study suggests risk-takers were more likely to have a personality that showed traits of low conscientiousness combined with high extraversion, high neuroticism, or both.
When discussing adrenaline junkies, many people talk about epinephrine addiction and use terminology normally associated with substance abuse.
However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not list thrill-seeking behavior as an addiction.
Even so, some studies show that people who feel compelled to take part in epinephrine-fuelled activities can suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they avoid these pursuits.
One 2016 study found that eight rock climbers experienced withdrawal symptoms after going through a period without climbing.
The research stated that their symptoms were consistent with existing substance addiction literature. Their withdrawal symptoms included:
- cravings to go rock climbing
- less interest in activities other than rock climbing
- negative emotions, such as frustration, agitation, and restlessness
There is no inherent risk involved with leading an exciting life. However, if a person’s risk-taking behavior begins to get out of control, they should speak with a medical professional.
People should seek help if their risk-taking is:
- putting their health and well-being in danger
- causing distress
- causing the person not to fulfill their work, home, or other responsibilities
A mental health professional could help a person manage their compulsion for these pursuits. They may also help them improve their behavior, making it more healthful and less dangerous.
“Adrenaline junkie” is a term used to describe a person who feels a compulsion to take part in exciting, dangerous, or intense activities. They do so to create an adrenaline rush.
Adrenaline junkies may enjoy a wide range of activities, including bungee jumping, skydiving, and other extreme sports.
Some studies show that when adrenaline junkies stop engaging in intense, exciting activities, they can begin to feel withdrawal symptoms.