Stimulation Addiction: Are You Living For The High?

You know the type—the kinds of people who are always going after the high, the thrill, the stimulation or the next big thing. Maybe you are that type. Many of them will also be known as addicts, but not always. We also might know them as the “adrenaline junkies,” the “thrill seekers,” the “spiritual gurus” or the simply “restless.” There may be no chemical involved and no recognizable addiction, but there’s that same overwhelming need for thrill and stimulation or the mental and spiritual high.

Why do some people always need a high? Some will say it’s a spiritual issue—discontentment or dissatisfaction with God and His will. Maybe it’s an issue in the brain chemistry; some are just a little lower in stimulating, rewarding brain chemicals. And because these individuals have a hard time feeling a natural high or sense of elation, they seek their fix in other ways. Experimenting with a behavior, a substance or some activity produces that rewarding rush, and they want it again and again.

Can Stimulation Or That “High” Be Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Stimulation Addiction Too Much Of A Good Thing - Christian Drug RehabThe behaviors and “highs” aren’t always negative or destructive. Sometimes they can even be quite good—there’s the runner’s high after a long workout, the spiritual high from a powerful time of worship and the surge of mild euphoria that comes from working hard on a project and finishing it with success. All good things, right?

The problem is when a good thing becomes a required thing. It’s the runner who sacrifices his own health or time with his family in order to complete one long run after another, or in the workaholic who takes making a living to an obsessive level, or in the Christian who feels depressed when he or she leaves church without having a spiritual “mountaintop” experience. It seems enough is never enough.

The Low Side Of High

The need for the high, the stimulation or the constant emotional boost can run the gamut from merely distracting to destructive. It may cause us to lose perspective on our own lives, to take advantage of people and exploit situations, or to become demanding and obsessive. Maybe the pursuit of something more interesting keeps us from working to our potential or handling other life responsibilities, especially if they’re comparatively boring and unexciting.

When we lack the stimulation or high, we become more prone to disappointment or mild depression. We may think that if we don’t leave every church service on cloud nine, we’re failing spiritually or that our church is failing us. If we experience a dull patch at work, we start to look for the next big thing. This constant need for repeated and greater stimulations creates unhealthy expectations of other people, institutions and our life in general.

Ways To Deal With The Craving For Stimulation

Maybe you know exactly what we’re talking about. You’ve felt the malaise and boredom when you didn’t obtain the stimulation you were seeking. Here are a few ways to deal with your constant craving for stimulation:

  • If you’re already seeking help for a primary addiction, the same recovery principles apply to your continued craving for stimulation. Talk to your sponsor about applying the 12 steps to the specific craving you’re now facing.
  • Practice mindfulness. It’s easy for addicts to get so caught up in negative emotions that they automatically seek escape and oblivion. Slowing down and becoming more mindful can help us see the real issue before we try to distract ourselves from it.
  • Pray. Spending time with God not only helps refocus our minds and hearts, but also helps us remember who’s in charge of our lives. When we pray about the things that bother us or make us anxious, we start to experience the peace that allows us to be content and accepting rather than constantly craving.
  • Look at your life. Are you seeking distraction or escape from a life situation that feels unmanageable or undesirable? Is there something you need to deal with that you are avoiding?
  • Therapy. Working with a counselor can help you explore the underlying issues. Many times we need these “fixes” because of a deeper issue that needs addressing. Therapy can help us look at the issues in a safe space and find the solutions.
  • Acceptance. For those of us who love stimulation, excitement and the next big thing, steadiness, contentedness and stability is so much harder to achieve or appreciate. When things get a little dull or mundane, we assume it’s time to move on. If tasks are boring, repetitive or solitary, we avoid them. Sometimes we need to accept that life isn’t always a party. God has given us many things to be happy and excited about, but there are days when we simply have to “dig ditches.”

With these tips you can realize why you’re seeking a high all of the time and deal with it.

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