An adrenaline rush is a concept quite familiar to all of us.
The feeling of exhilaration during a highly stressful event is a potent feeling for many people. When in danger, our body switches to fight mode – and thus actives strings of biochemical changes in our system. We might not know the exact science behind it, but we know the things that count. The “fight or flight” instinct is a mighty feeling for everyone. There are even enthusiasts who chase that feeling throughout their lives.
If you ever wanted to learn more about adrenaline, here is what adrenaline’s all about. Let’s break down the concept – just like our hormones break down sugar in the liver – and explore the stress hormone responsible for one of the best thrills of our lives. Ladies and gentlemen, a story about adrenaline rushes begins!
The Scientific Background
If you ask anyone involved in medical or biological studies, they’ll tell you that adrenaline is a stress hormone that is triggered in the adrenal gland during stress. Your body undergoes significant changes, all with one purpose: protection. During situations that represent a danger for your organism, your brain perceives them as threats. And when under threat – you need to defend, right? Well, that is precisely why adrenaline, or epinephrine, is there for. By activating stress hormones in the adrenal glands, your brain signals to the rest of the body to prepare to fight. And this is one of the most important defense mechanisms that we possess.
Now, let’s talk about the ways in which your body prepares for stress. First, the body needs all the extra energy it can get. By speeding up the break down of sugar in the liver, adrenaline provides more energy for the muscles. The sugar boost means you will have more strength to deal with the stressful situation.
But this is just the beginning. Once the brain picks up the information that you are endangered, it sends adrenaline cells in numerous parts of the body. The cells are responsible for the quick shot of blood to the heart, which starts pumping it faster. Your heartbeat quickens, and the blood that reaches the muscles gives a bigger boost of energy as well. The muscles need oxygen as well, so that is why you have shallow breathing when under stress.
Of course, your mind goes on lockdown, because it needs to figure out a way to escape the situation. Typically, this lasts very shortly, because your brain activity also picks up the pace during stress. All these elements create a unique experience that we call “adrenaline rush.” The swift changes that happen inside and out of your body are why it is called “a rush.”
Hooked on a Feeling
As we already said, adrenaline rushes are not exactly a revelation to us anymore. We know what happens to our organisms when we find ourselves in potentially hazardous situations. However, the most intriguing part of adrenaline rushes is that there are people who voluntarily put themselves in challenging situations. Why do they do that? Because they want to trigger a rush of adrenaline. The rush of adrenaline is often described as “the thrill of a lifetime.” Even though this type of state is there to protect the body in case of real danger, people have found a way to hack it and use it to their advantage.
The people who feel the constant need to trigger adrenaline release in their bodies are referred to as “adrenaline junkies.” But this surpasses the biological framework. Discussing adrenaline addiction touches upon psychology as well.
A collection of studies have been performed about adrenaline addicts. Different fields of study have devoted years to this specific subject. However, psychologists have been the most successful. There were numerous studies (several in the last decade only) that deal with the psychological aspect of addiction to adrenaline. One specific study revealed in 2016 that personality might be the main factor in determining if a person is liable to becoming an adrenaline addict. Enthusiasts constantly seek adrenaline stimulation because they enjoy the rush of blood, sugar, and oxygen that adrenaline gives them. And they are prepared to do anything to trigger the feeling.
In Search of the Perfect Thrill
People who enjoy adrenaline are linked to a variety of activities. Most of them involve a certain level of risk, obviously. From extreme sports to horror movies, the list is endless.
Most people enjoy physical interactions that land them in challenging positions outside. For example, parachuting, paragliding, and basically any sport that includes “para” and “extreme” in the title. There is also bungee jumping and various forms of racing as the go-to options in extreme sports. In the past years, many new sports have been invented to bring the adrenaline game to a new level. In more traditional terms, even skateboarding is dangerous enough for a quick jolt of adrenaline.
While some people enjoy going out, others prefer staying indoors. There is a wide choice of adrenaline-friendly activities indoors. The most obvious example would be watching horror movies, whose main objective is precisely adrenaline release.
Those with a penchant for risky situations love playing games as well. Video games, as one of the largest branches of gaming entertainment today, provides a lot of material for adrenaline spikes. Gamers enjoy playing action games almost as much as placing bets in digitalized casinos. Of course, comparing live casinos with action games is not exactly easy, as both provide different yet similarly powerful experiences in real-time.
Nevertheless, those who enjoy adrenaline will always find a way of satisfying their craving. In a way, hacking our own defense systems allows us to tap into the superhuman abilities of the human body. For some, this is a hobby, while others regard it as a necessity.
In either case, we like to feel superhuman, even for just a couple of minutes.