Enjoyable Activities vs. Risk Taking
Even if you’ve never considered yourself much of a risk taker, you may find yourself seeking out more thrilling experiences in your new alcohol-free life than you used to. While some level of excitement and adventure builds a joyful life, certain behaviors may be riskier than others. When we prioritize striking a health balance between getting ourselves out there in the world, and focusing on activities that provide a healthy level of thrill, we begin building the kind of life we don’t have to escape from with substances.
So what’s the deal with the risky behavior?
Well, risk-taking (considered a personality trait by some social scientists) and addiction have a strong correlation when we look at the data. There’s a high intersection between those who seek out high risk experiences and those who develop problematic relationships with substances like drugs or alcohol. In many ways, just like substance use and mental health, it’s a chick-or-the-egg scenario; it’s hard to know which one came first for some.
Additionally, there’s a brain chemistry piece at play. When we experience something that “gives us a rush,” part of what we’re feeling is our “stress response” system being activated, plus our favorite friend dopamine. Let’s consider skydiving, something considered by many to be a reasonable enough thrill seeking experience. (Even if I think you’re nuts to want to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane!) The moment you make the leap, you’re absolutely flooded with neurochemicals and your body is firing on all systems. One of the things you get a surge of is dopamine, the neurochemical that makes us feel good.