≡ Main Menu

How To Overcome Adrenaline Addiction: Tips From A Former Addict

Overcoming adrenaline addiction can be among the most challenging psychological experiences a person has to deal with in their entire lifetime. When people initially feel the adrenaline enter their body, it feels highly uncomfortable. Most people panic when it floods their body and mind, which leads to further production of adrenaline (also known as “epinephrine”). This high production of adrenaline eventually causes the person to become conditioned to needing production for everyday functioning.

Although initially the adrenaline floods the body and makes us feel uncomfortable, after many months of build up, it actually can have an antidepressant effect. It triggers fear and causes anxiety – but this causes release of dopamine, which can actually ward off depression. After time, people can love the edge that this “fight or flight” response gives them in terms of energy, mood boost, and quick wit. I can personally testify for this because it’s something I’ve had to deal with.

The release of adrenaline can boost mood, social skills (because the brain is thinking so quickly), and overall energy. You may wake up feeling like you need to do something or need to get moving or a lot of things accomplished. Many individuals with adrenaline addiction become extremely competitive and accomplished in terms of setting and achieving goals. Additionally, there are many CEO’s and leaders of large companies that are addicted to this highly stimulated state of awareness.

In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with adrenaline addiction unless you feel as though it is taking a toll on your physical health. If that time comes, or you reach a point in your life where you just want to get back to your “authentic self” with no unnatural excess of adrenaline, you can do it. I honestly thought I would never be the same after my trauma, but after a few years of hard work, I overcame the adrenaline addiction and reset my body’s natural state of homeostasis.

If you are functioning well with high adrenaline, just keep in mind that it may lead to poorer physical health and problems such as: high blood pressure, heart attacks, physical pain, or excessive anxiety and hypochondria. Some people have a minor addiction to adrenaline and/or have it under control, but others cannot seem to cope well with the excess flood of epinephrine and cortisol throughout their nervous system.

How an adrenaline addiction starts…

1. Traumatic event or high stress – War, life changing diagnosis (e.g. cancer), rape, hard drug withdrawal, 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.

2. Body sensitized to adrenaline – After a good 6 to 8 months of excessive adrenaline build up, it changes your physiology. You become sensitized to the epinephrine and used to what it does for you. Initially it may be difficult to cope with, but after awhile, you become so accustomed to it that you can function.

3. Brain in overdrive – It sends your brain into full throttle and your wit becomes majorly amplified. This is because your slower brainwaves in the alpha and theta ranges become severely diminished. Alpha rhythms are drowned out by high amounts of mid and high-range beta brainwaves. This leads to further production of dopamine, epinephrine, and cortisol.

4. Adrenaline floods the body – Your body will feel less relaxed and you may have the urge to move around. You will literally feel the adrenaline coursing throughout your entire body. Senses all become heightened – hearing, vision, taste, smells, and touch. I remember smells became very powerful for me and my hearing became so sensitive that normal volume levels had me panicking thinking I was going to lose hearing – which caused further panic – and exacerbated the cycle.

5. Brain and body conditioned to adrenaline – The sensitization of adrenaline is actually a heightened state of awareness. Your focus on soft sounds makes them seem like they may cause hearing loss; you panic. Bright lights may seem as though they are going to cause blindness. You become highly emotionally sensitive to minor issues and feel as though many things are a personal attack. After awhile though, you may become positive, outgoing, happy, and pleasure seeking. This is because 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.

How to overcome adrenaline addiction:

There are a number of solid options for overcoming the excess production of adrenaline. Some are common sense, while others may be a little more counterintuitive. The goal is to use up all of the excess energy and to cause your body to relax. If you can’t relax and fall asleep normally at night, you are still highly aroused.  The goal is to reduce your level of arousal from being stuck in full throttle hyper aroused mode to a more relaxed, normal state of functioning.  This takes a lot of time though, it took me over 4 years to get back on track.

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. Ideally, you should shoot for 40 to 60 minutes in the weight room. Work out hard, but when the time is up, leave. Do not ever do all cardio either, add in strength training because it will force your muscles to work hard and burn up energy stores. I personally think strength training is better than cardio for overcoming this addiction.

2. Yoga – One practice you may consider taking up is that of yoga. 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 – When I reached the peak of my addiction, the thing that helped me fall asleep at night was self hypnosis and/or guided imagery recordings. I simply downloaded some self hypnosis sessions, put them on my iPod to listen to, and was usually able to fall asleep. If I wasn’t able to fall asleep, I at least felt very relaxed.

4. Deep breathing – Practicing deep breathing can be beneficial for consciously training your body to relax. Although I found deep breathing to be helpful on occasion, most people don’t know how to do it properly to help themselves relax. Should you choose to incorporate this in your attempt to overcome this addiction, make sure you know what you’re doing.

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 people 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. In other words, if you are drinking coffee, taking 5 hour energy extreme, No Doz, cocaine, Red Bull, Adderall, etc. Things that stimulate this adrenaline production should be stopped. Cut them from your diet completely if you are serious about getting back to normal.

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.

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 awhile, at least minimize your time spent using them. Also a tip: NEVER use electronics (including cell phone) at least an hour before bed. Something as simple as getting one text could get you so worked up that you won’t be able to sleep.

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. Neurofeedback – Although this method isn’t effective for everyone, it is basically a way to help train your brain to consciously relax. Typically a professional will hook up an EEG, get a brain wave reading, and help you determine what frequencies to up-train or down-train.

11. Brainwave Entrainment – This is a relatively newer, less researched science, but some people swear by this technology for helping them get back on track. I have used it; it has worked relatively well to help with relaxation. There are studies out that prove that this technology can help promote relaxation.

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 – Before your brain slows down, a month or two in advance your body will feel relaxed. Your brain will still be stimulated, but you will feel very comfortable. I enjoyed this state of awareness a lot because the body feels great.

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.

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? 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 human being.

The adrenaline is there to help protect you in dangerous situations. I know if I dealt with this powerful addiction, there are others out there that have gone through the same craziness. Coming down from my adrenaline spike, hypomania, high or whatever you want to call it was very rocky and hellish. Unless you are prepared to take on the challenge and the pain you may experience from the “comedown” I would be careful. For some people the extra boost that they get from this addiction may actually be helpful.

Related Posts:

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Nicole July 14, 2018, 2:11 am

    Hi, I am curious if there is scientific evidence of this? It sounds like what I experienced as an adrenaline junkie working in a high stress, fast paced environment and enjoying many adrenaline provoking activities on my time off. Extreme relationships included.

    My job created burnout and secondary ptsd for me. I quit my job and was planning to embrace the “unknown” I then had a period of about a week where I felt acute intensities of what could be described as adrenaline rushing through my body (I thought it was a kundalini awakening at the time).

    Surges of extreme hunger, extreme sexual desire and crushing chest pain that took me to the ER to be told it was a panic attack. Once things settled I realized I couldn’t sit still. I needed the next exciting plan. I made impulsive decisions and then crashed only to go back up and down a few times before a truly crashed and was admitted to the psych ward, diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

    The psychiatrists never talk about causes other than genetic predisposition. I am interested in learning how lifestyle choices can predispose you to this “imbalance”. I am now on lithium and stabilized but wonder if there are other ways to motivate myself when I’ve been addicted to adrenaline all my life. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Les July 9, 2018, 3:35 am

    I am a 49 year old very successful self made man. I started with a s*** life with much fear from the age of 12-26. I became reluctantly used to the fear and learned at age 17 that when it got really scary, something switched in me. My confidence grew and I just somehow survived. Over time I turned that “energy” to thriving and I love it.

    Quick wit, sharp, dynamic and changing all the time. Adrenaline drives me. I love the fight back. Miss it if I don’t have it. But now I am scared that I will hurt myself. I am getting older. Fell off a mountain bike recently. Dropped one of my motorbikes. Take risks on relationships, etc.

    But just worked it out and I need bigger thrills to get “going”. My high risk behavior is across the board. I want to stop and relax. But I love the rush. Going to go see someone for help. But life elsewhere seems so dull!

    I used it. I made it. It’s my weapon and I don’t want to hurt myself with it. So crazy – and yet I built a massive business. Made millions. Married well and have three incredible kids and am wild and popular. People want to be me!!!

  • Megan December 21, 2017, 5:41 am

    Thank you! I’ve just come to realize that my chaotic life is a result of adrenaline addiction. This article was helpful.

  • Laidback May 6, 2017, 9:32 am

    Thank you and kudos on a very well written article. And the comments are also excellent.

  • Connie McAdams February 12, 2017, 6:57 pm

    I am sooo thankful for this article. I know the cause of mine, where the doctors didn’t. I see my Psych tomorrow, hopefully I can get answers.

  • Dave December 6, 2016, 4:53 pm

    I have had constant adrenaline coursing through my body for the last 12 months now. Caused by a stressful situation at work. The Doctors don’t really know what to suggest. I’ve tried Hypnotherapy, antidepressants and beta-blockers but so far nothing has changed. Exercise helps but only whilst doing it then the adrenaline starts again. If anyone out there has anything that can help please let me know.

    • Leonard January 14, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Dave, I nearly reached a point of nervous breakdown from constant stress and anxiety years ago. A wise man once said we have 3 choices when it comes to a stressful situation: change the situation, remove ourselves from it completely or accept it completely. Most of us also need to unlearn stressful habits and thoughts that make true acceptance difficult or impossible.

      Meditation can be a great long term strategy for this. But sometimes it’s hard to see that if we do not make one of those 3 choices, we are choosing inaction and that will allow the stress and or suffering to continue/increase.

      Something called the Emotional Freedom Technique was very helpful to me until I discovered meditation and how powerful it can be. We will never be free of everything that can cause stress, but our response to it can make all the difference in the world. Best wishes – I hope you find a positive and sustainable solution.

  • De August 27, 2016, 2:53 pm

    That’s for writing this article which describes what I am finding to be the core of my addictive behavior, adrenaline. I have gone through cycles of violence my whole life, which led me to work as a first responder to a demographic of people who continually confront violence and addiction in unsafe environments.

    After being attacked and leaving work, my nor epinephrine surges increAsed through my own high risk behavior and relationship issues. Thank you to those who commented about their own experience with norepinephrine and the catalysts that trigger it’s release. I will read the article again, to implement the suggested behaviors, meditations and exercise.

  • L.A. White July 3, 2016, 10:56 pm

    I am embarrassed to say this, but I am dealing with adrenaline addiction that was brought on by physical violence. I was hit many times a day for two years, in the face and head mostly. It has been four years since that happened, but I find that I am struggling with the addiction that came as a result.

    I live a celibate lifestyle, and I was not in a romantic relationship when it happened. More like a cult like environment. Last night I was flooded with adrenaline right before I went to bed, and I was not doing anything to cause it. I found that I was craving the physical violence or something even more intense.

    I know in my mind that what happened to me was wrong, but in that environment I began to associate being hit with being loved, for I would be “comforted” after I was hit. I don’t know what to do. I can’t find much about adrenaline addiction brought on by physical violence, but I read a paper by a doctor who trains women who have been sex trafficked and physically abused, who DO get addicted to adrenaline as a result.

    Physiologically it is no different than an athlete who gets addicted to adrenaline from his sports. But in this case, your body is constantly producing adrenaline because of violence, and I don’t know what to do to break the association to violence and the addiction. I don’t want to be hit or anything, but last night when I got that surge of adrenaline, I found myself physically craving something dark and abnormal. Can anyone politely advise?

    • Chris July 15, 2016, 4:56 am

      L.A. White, I don’t think anything I’m saying could count as advice, but what I can say is that I know the feeling, of associating adrenaline with violence (specifically towards yourself). Please don’t feel embarrassed, it’s really brave of you to post something so personal like this online. You’re not alone, and I’m sure there is some other silent readers out there that can relate. I recently became aware of my addiction too and I think building a more positive association with the adrenaline rush is going to be a crucial part in recovery.

      Rather than trying to break the association, focus more on creating a new one that will naturally overpower the old. I took up rock wall climbing recently (at a gym, not outside), and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding my mental health. It’s not a lot of cardio, just as this post advises against. It’s all strength training so there’s really no way you can overdo it.

      If you’re consistently climbing throughout the session, 45 minutes to an hour is about all you can take, even for the more seasoned climbers. Most importantly it’s goal oriented. Every time I go I notice small improvements, I’m a little stronger this time, I can reach this rock that I couldn’t last time, now I can handle a wall at a more difficult level, etc… I use so much concentration and adrenaline just keeping myself on the wall and moving to the next rock.

      I’ve started to find myself associating my adrenaline with feeling confident, accomplished, and a little happy from time to time. Because that is starting to become the dominant state of mind I’m in when I’m really feeling that rush. And those more physical cravings for something a bit darker lose more strength as time goes on.

      Rock wall climbing is not this world’s lone cure for adrenaline addicts. Especially if you don’t have a rock climbing gym near you or you’re just not interested. This is just an example of how I’ve been able to help myself. Basically if you can find any activity that allows you to feel your adrenaline in tandem with success, confidence, or pretty much any positive emotion, pick it up and keep at it while making sure you don’t go overboard.

      Maybe with enough positive association and deliberate relaxation techniques you’ll find yourself in a better place one day. I’m not quite there yet either but I’m working on it. The brain is a really complex machine, and this is just one of it’s hiccups. Looks like we’ll just have to rewire this ourselves. Good luck!!

    • Leonard January 14, 2018, 12:47 pm

      LA White, the Emotional Freedom Technique is one kind of “energy healing” method I would strongly recommend considering. Find a practitioner to get started but know that you can learn and practice it on your own. It helps free us of negative emotional associations with things, to put it simply.

      It can be very effective, even with challenges such as PTSD and overcoming addiction. When you feel like you’ve made some good progress, meditation would be another great way to cultivate peace of mind. Good luck!

  • Scarlet October 10, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I’m curious if you feel dumber when the quick wit goes away. I just recently realized that I’m an adrenaline addict but I’m also pre-med and that quick wit is what got me here. I’m sure it doesn’t change your IQ, but I feel like being able to quickly answer questions is tantamount to my success. I guess I’m wondering if I need to worry about fixing this now or wait until I’m done with school. Is there a way to balance the addiction to use it to your advantage? Would it help to know that my addiction started before 5 yo? Not sure what happened, but I’ve been like this my entire life. I’m not sure I know how to be different.

    • Elissa October 5, 2016, 4:15 pm

      Hi Scarlet – I know this is a year later, but in case you’re still wondering… you may find that after slowing down a bit you can think more carefully. Being quick-witted isn’t all about leaping on the first answer that comes to mind.

      If you give yourself more space to think you can take more factors into account and your decisions are likely to be better in quality. Adrenaline is for emergencies where you have to come up with answers in a hurry, and they don’t always turn out to be the best answers.

  • paul January 21, 2015, 11:20 am

    Evan, I am annoyed by your response to this article which describes how many people including myself have or are feeling. If the article doesn’t fit you, then so be it. It’s rude to make negative, criticizing comments like you have. I received my adrenaline doses by committing crime and risk getting caught. I’m not proud of it but it had the desired result. Now I drive fast cars, ride fast bikes, etc etc. I have had counseling for depression, anger and anxiety during the periods in have tried to move away from the addiction. It’s not easy. Talking helps heaps! Whether that is like this, or in a group or just with your partner. Trusting someone enough to admit it is hard. I wish you the best with your challenge. Good luck :)

  • khalid November 10, 2014, 1:37 am

    I was extremely sickly addicted to adrenaline in the worst way. I even developed unconscious habits to stream adrenaline in the worst ways. That is by seeking fear. These habits stuck for years and now I started a program (diet, meditation, deadline for going to bed) two months ago and am feeling much better. It is very hard, especially in my case. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, especially with the adrenaline fatigue and foggy mind. But I can tell you it is achievable if you imagine the harm and looking for better quality of life. You will believe that you been drugging yourself with adrenaline. Best regards for all self-medicating with natural way of life and food.

  • Jens December 19, 2013, 6:01 pm

    Thank you so much. I have been an adrenalin addict for years, but i have only recently started to realize it. It’s actually quite difficult to establish, but this article was spot on. I’m very exited about changing my adrenalin level for the better…so exited that my adrenalin is pumping again, but hopefully it will wear off!

  • Lee September 24, 2013, 9:40 pm

    As a victim of over stimulation I have suffered with what I learned became adrenaline addiction. What you write has been proven to be true by my own experience. It still is very often a challenge to relax and I can still get lost in old habits, but now I know that the discomfort of the transition to release and relaxation is my friend. Thanks for the validation and reassurance.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.