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Passion Gone Too Far

adrenaline addiction
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What drives you?

Passion or adrenaline?  

Passion is an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and preparing muscles for exertion.  

Also called epinephrine, adrenaline is a crucial part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, but over-exposure can be addicting.  

A 2004 article by the Table Group points out:

There is something particularly insidious about adrenaline addiction that makes it hard for many leaders to kick the habit. Unlike other addicts whose behaviors are socially frowned-upon, adrenaline addicts are often praised for their frantic activity, even promoted for it during their careers. And so, they often wear their problem like a badge of honor, failing to see it as an addiction in spite of the pain it causes.

Pastors and other ministry leaders may be some of the most adrenaline-driven people on planet earth. We often confuse passion with our calling with being driven by adrenaline. And it comes at a great cost to our health, relationships, and longevity.

At what point does passion for our work degrade into an adrenaline addiction? Let me point out a few differences between the two:  

  • Passion gets us out of bed in the morning, ready to take on the day. Adrenaline keeps us up at night, unable to let go of the cares of the day.  
  • Passion energizes us to carry out our assignment. Adrenaline often propels us beyond our assignment and into responsibilities that belong to others.  
  • Passion produces an appropriate sense of urgency. Adrenaline makes everything seem urgent.  
  • Passion draws us; adrenaline drives us.  

So how do we determine if we’re simply passionate—or in reality, adrenaline-addicted? Let me throw a few thoughts into the mix:  

  • If you can’t detach yourself from your smartphone and always check your email late at night, you might be an adrenaline addict.  
  • If people praise you for how hard your work, you might be an adrenaline addict.  
  • If your sense of value rises and falls on how busy you are, you might be an adrenaline addict.  
  • If you can’t sit still, you might be an adrenaline addict. 
  • If you have no time for a personal life, you might be an adrenaline addict.  

How To Deal With Adrenaline Addiction 

So what can you do if you suspect you might be addicted to adrenaline

1. Admit You’re an Addict  

“Hello, I’m [insert your name], and I’m an adrenaline junkie.” Simply acknowledge your current state with brutal honesty. Drug addicts can’t begin the journey toward healing without admitting they have a problem. Adrenaline addiction is real, on the rise, and often leads to both physical and psychological problems. It damages relationships, especially family relationships. The first step toward freedom is admitting you have a problem.