When someone is emotionally addicted to stress, cortisol and adrenaline are pumping out in higher levels than for the average person, but the adrenaline junkies want to pile on even more stress. Identifying strongly with three or more of these 7 signs of emotional addiction is a good indication that stress is a favorite pill of choice.

Here are 7 behaviors that show an emotional addiction to stress:

1. Enjoying the thrill of the chase

Pressure is on to meet that deadline because they procrastinated on purpose, just to feel the rush of stress as they press to finish at the last minute. Procrastination for the purpose of creating emotional stress is less healthy than methodically completing tasks that need to get done before the deadline, but a stress addict likes the thrill of this game to see if they will be done on time.

2. They avoid down time

“I’ll rest when I’m dead” is the motto of someone who has an emotional addiction to stress. Planning for healthy mental and physical breaks from work is a less emotionally addictive way to handle their workload.

3. They find drama or it finds them

Military veterans have a high exposure to stressful situations in combat and often are thought of as ‘adrenaline junkies’ who crave the ongoing rush. A stress addict who purposefully finds drama in order to feel a rush may be doing a similar behavior by adding increasing risk or drama to normal daily situations.

Stress or adrenaline junkies have a tendency to engage in risky health behaviors, for example, drinking to excess or driving recklessly, and this may be due to low dopamine levels in their brains. Researchers find that people with lower functioning dopamine activity in the brain puts them at risk for violence, because it motivates them to experience aggression’s hedonically rewarding qualities, just like an addict.

stress quote

Frequently arguing is a sign that someone is emotionally addicted to stress. The brain releases dopamine when a person believes that they have ‘won’ an argument in addition to the adrenaline of having to ‘fight’ for the win. This neurotransmitter combination can be an addictive positive feeling that stress junkies crave over and over. Escalating the emotional state intentionally may harm the relationships people have, so the help of a mental health professional is suggested if someone finds their behavior to be negatively impacting connections with others.

4. They expect results immediately

Those who are used to getting their way will often take control and order others around, which then creates stress for others. Why do you need to drop your things for their thing? Issuing instructions and expecting you to jump makes you seem bossy and impatient, but if these actions do get results, it may be feeding their stress addiction.

5. They have an innate sense of time

You know exactly how many minutes have passed since you’ve been waiting for the elevator and exactly how many other things they could have been getting done in that same number of minutes. There are never enough productive minutes in the day for them and they enjoy being right about guessing what time it is on the clock throughout the day.

6. If there’s no pressure, they add it

Creating a rushed deadline to push your level of activity to a furious pace is a trait of someone who is emotionally addicted to stress. Objectively seeing a deadline without the emotion of stress associated with it, or being able to manage stress response by planning work appropriately, is a more effective response.

7. Worrying is something they do well

Thinking of the future is a sign that you’re emotionally addicted to stress because, although you can plan for the unknown, you can’t predict what will happen. Living in the present moment is difficult for those who enjoy the emotional rush of stress.

Final Thoughts:

Recognizing the problem is the first step to overcoming any addiction. An addiction to stress may be an avoidance of thoughts or emotions that have not yet been processed. Seeking the help of a mental health professional to find treatment resources is a great next step to overcoming stress addiction.

military risky behavior: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a562950.pdf
Dopamine and brain: https://www.thefix.com/content/winning-argument-addictive-adrenaline1365