ACoAs: Risk-ADDICTED (Part 1)


Don’t bore me with your caution


SITE: “Risk-Taking Behaviors


ACoA risk addicts are formed by a combination of growing up in a constantly chaotic & dangerous environment – along with a personal ‘preference’ for high stimulation. People with a higher than average need for novelty, change & excitement – don’t always abuse drugs & alcohol – some become scuba or sky divers…. (Zuckerman M, 2004)

Studies look at such causes as:
Biological (hormonal effects), Cognitive (risk perception), Environmental factors / influences (parents & peer groups) & Personality (sensation seeking tendency)

Sensation / Novelty seeking in humans is inherited, with genetics accounting for 30-50 % of the personality trait.  Risk-taking causes real changes in the brain. Major risks release adrenaline, providing a quick rush, & dopamine, giving an intense feelings of pleasure. Over time, it can function much like a drug (adrenaline junkies). Such people may need bigger ones to get the same rush, so routine daily activities will feel empty, even painful.

While these chemicals contribute to a powerful high in most people, the feelings can be especially addictive to people struggling with sadness or depression.
Interesting: This behavior has been associated with low levels MAO (monoamine oxidase), which regulates neurotransmitters like dopamine. Levels of MAO are lower in men than women, & lower in young people than older ones

Research reported in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that daredevils’ brains are more saturated with dopamine – because of fewer inhibiting receptors – predisposing them to keep on chasing the next high, like driving too fast, drinking & drugging too much, overspending….. ” (MORE….)

Studies of risk-related poor decision making found it was related to lesions on the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Some studies indicate that people who score high on Neuroticism – a combination of anxiety, moodiness & worry (O.C.E.A.N. types) are more likely to be risk-takers, while other studies found they actually score lower on N. than the general population.

Personality plays another major role in this tendency, such as the kinds of risks a person is willing to take. Some adrenaline junkies have a preferred ‘exciting’ behavior, like a dangerous profession, while those who are highly physical might choose rock climbing or mountain biking as recreation.
Ironically, the dedicated smoker might be terrified of heights, driving, or illness, without ever recognizing that smoking is a risky behavior.

Cultural influences & peer pressure also have an affect. As travel has become a part of the educational path of middle class students, more & more are willing to go to potentially risky locations, & many studies have shown that people are more likely to take risks when in a group.

IN GENERAL – Not everyone with higher levels of dopamine pursue danger. But those of us who do are cut off from our True Self & a wide variety of emotions, especially the ones we think make us weak – such as loneliness, sadness, vulnerability, terror….. (Review: large range of possible Es ).

Such people feel empty inside, bored & dissatisfied with themselves (S-H).  Along with a need for high stimulation – addiction to adrenal rush – they want to be different from the ‘average’ joe, whom they look down on, but secretly identify with

They love the attention they get from being daring, outspoken & flamboyant.
— When their actions are socially acceptable (bungee jumping, parkour jumping, jet plane testing, ambulance attendant, member of ‘special forces’, fire-fighter….) they bask in the awe & admiration of their peers & public

–When their choices are ‘invisible’, such as undercover agent / spy, risk-taking makes them feel in control, powerful, unique

— When their acting out is less socially acceptable (criminal), there may be few people to cheer them on. But their main ‘satisfaction’ is internal – getting away with something they’re not supposed to do, thumbing their nose at authority, a mistaken belief that they are setting a boundary, expressing contempt for rules…. ALL being run by the Introject and/or the (adapted) WIC.

NEXT: Risk-ADDICTED (Part 2)

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