Why does one so often lead to another?
Can people really become addicted to tattoos? That depends on how you define ‘addiction’. In a strict medical sense, what we commonly call a ‘tattoo addiction’ may actually be more of a passion. If, however, we broaden our view of what constitutes an addiction, then there are several factors that could contribute to a tattooing addiction.
These natural pain relievers originate in the brain and are released to combat the pain you feel from the tattoo gun’s needles. Endorphins are very powerful. Think of the natural ‘highs’ that can come with exercise and orgasms. Some folks get more tattoos in order to feel this rush again.
As part of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, adrenaline is released from the nervous system in response to pain. Some ‘adrenaline junkies’ might get tattoos for the rush of adrenaline that they feel, similarly to the way others jump out of airplanes with a large piece of nylon attached to their backs.
Most tattoo enthusiasts view tattooing as a way to express themselves. Some individuals, however, have difficulty with writing and speaking, and so expressing their identity through a visual medium becomes an important part of their vocabulary. For them, tattoos may be the only way that they feel comfortable showing the world who they really are.
This form of body modification is often recognized as an art form with the tattoo recipient as the artist, even if a professional drew the actual tat. Sculptors, painters and other artists have been known to show signs of addiction to their art forms, so it isn’t surprising that tattoo artists may also do so.
Some tattoo enthusiasts may feel connected to the thriving tattoo sub-culture, especially if they feel ostracized from a larger community, and they may crave the sense of belonging and the bonds created through shared experiences.
All of these factors can certainly mimic an addiction, but we must consider the ramifications of a true addiction. The individual feels compelled to engage in the behavior, neglects regular, necessary aspects of daily life like work, family or even health. In these regards, passion for tattooing diverges from more conventional addictions.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the endorphins that may come with getting a tattoo, and getting multiple tattoos is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as they don’t interfere with your daily life. So, go ahead and get inked to your heart’s content!