The question isn’t ARE tattoos addictive, what you really want to know is why tattoos are addictive.
And if you’re asking that question, you might be wondering why it feels so good even just thinking about your next tattoo.
It’s called science.
Picture this scenario: you’re literally in the chair getting tattooed.
It’s painful, the artist is working on a super sensitive spot and you’re using breathing exercises.
You can’t believe you let your friend talk you into this, what were you thinking?!
Then all of the sudden, it’s over.
You’re looking at your new tattoo and instantly forget the pain…
In fact, you remember the experience being quite pleasurable…
Now you can’t wait until the next one – no matter what it is.
The ideas are racing through your head, what will you get, where will you put it?
It may have taken just one piece, but you’re addicted and you want more.
Let’s have a look at why tattoos are addictive – and why it’s not so bad.
Wait, are tattoos actually addictive?
Let’s take a step back here, can a person really be addicted to getting inked?
According to the clinical definition of addition, the answer is… maybe.
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a pattern of substance use or behavior that’s not easily controlled and can become compulsive over time.
While your desire to have multiple tattoos isn’t necessarily an addiction per se the idea of your next one may keep you up at night and give you the cold sweats if you don’t get a new one as soon as the last one is healed.
There’s an element of psychological addiction here.
Rather than being addicted to the physical chemicals produced in your brain while getting tattooed, you’re likely addicted to the behaviour of getting tattooed.
The chemicals are adrenaline and endorphins, and while they feel absolutely fantastic, it’s pretty rare to have a physical craving for them.
Dr. David J Linden writes endorphin-boosting activity “appears to cause the release of endocannabinoids, which are the brain’s natural cannabis-like molecules, and endorphins/enkephalins, which are natural morphine-like compounds.”
Tattoos are a real thrill.
How about a big helping of adrenaline to get your energy up?
When you get a tattoo, your body releases adrenaline in response to the stress of receiving pain.
An adrenaline rush can cause an increased heart rate, you may feel less pain, or you may even feel stronger with heightened senses.
Basically, you become a superhero.
Love that feeling?
Love getting that feeling from tattoos?
Get high off your own supply.
When you get a tattoo your body is in pain, so it releases a euphoric chemical called endorphins.
Thank you biology.
It’s the same feeling you get when you hit the buffet, hit the gym, or hit the sack with a partner.
Have you heard of opioids?
Endorphins affect your brain in the same way those pain relievers do, and you better believe those are addictive.
The only difference, is your brain naturally releases endorphins when you get a tattoo, you’re not adding an additional chemical to your body.
The desire to feel amazing channeled through tattoos or body piercings isn’t called an addiction officially… but it sure feels like one.
“Am I addicted to pain?”
If you’ve read this far and you don’t think you’re not convinced why tattoos are addictive because of adrenaline or endorphins – you might be a masochist.
Just kidding (sort of).
Firstly, let’s be clear that getting a tattoo will definitely involve some level of pain.
It varies from person to person, tattoo to tattoo.
There’s a possibility that you actually like the pain, that you enjoy the sensation of getting a tattoo.
Sound like you?
It’s better to feel pleasure over pain when you get a tattoo as long as you’re getting the tattoo because of the actual tattoo – not because you just want pain.
But hey, who are we to judge?
Is tattoo ink addictive?
While you may face a small risk of allergic reaction or skin inflammation, scientific research hasn’t found any ingredients in the ink that pose a risk of addiction.
Fun fact: the ink we use in all of our studios is 100% vegan.
Go ahead and get the tattoo!
If you love getting tattoos because you love the pain, the pleasure, or for any other reason, then go for it.
You don’t need to spend your time researching why tattoos are addictive, or why they aren’t.
When it comes to self expression, just be the real you whatever that looks like.
Your desire to look a certain way, or whatever drives you to be tattooed, is the reason you’ll go back for more, along with your personal tolerance of pain.
The reality is you won’t walk out of a tattoo studio with an insatiable desire to be inked again.
But hopefully, once the adrenaline and endorphins wear off, you’ll keep coming back for more because you love expressing yourself through body art.
Final thoughts – let’s get real.
In all seriousness, addiction is a real mental health condition that many of us face.
If you feel as though you’re medically addicted to getting tattoos – as in you can’t function on a day-to-day basis without new ink – please consult a physician.
Are tattoos art? The fine line between self expression and self destruction.
Tattoos can have a positive effect on your immune system.
Think before you ink: 10 questions to ask before getting a tattoo.