STRESS AS AN ADRENALINE ADDICTION A Coach’s Overview By Larry I. Meadows

The operating premise of the adrenaline addiction concept is that some people, usually
under the label stress, use their own adrenaline as a drug. This “addiction to intensity”
has a purpose. It is to repress the conscious emergence of particularly painful underlying
feelings of loss, abandonment, and disconnection, at essential levels.
In compensation, many individuals will accept any form of intensity rather than confront
their inner emptiness. If one particular source of intensity is relieved, a replacement will
emerge. Yet the continued presence of this level of stress within the body is harmful both
physiologically and psychologically. Therefore, some kind of relief is indicated. This
usually requires working with a Coach.
For the untrained Coach, a normal approach would include application of various stress
reduction techniques. While this may help relieve the immediate complaints, the longterm
effect may be essentially palliative in nature. For more permanent stress relief, the
introduction of the concept of adrenaline addiction may prove beneficial.
The primary approach begins as the Coach shifts the person’s focus away from external
sources of stress. Instead, the individual is helped to develop an internal awareness of the
presence, and use, of adrenaline as a drug of choice. Written self-reports (the adrenaline
diary) reviewed by the Coach is helpful in this phase of the process.
Once aware of their adrenaline abuse, the person is encouraged to find conscious ways to
create adrenaline at will. With guidance, they begin to create volitional adrenaline, rather
than habitually selecting something in their environment to react to.
Withdrawal from adrenaline, as a drug state, is then begun. The Coach assists the person
to discontinue some of the more manageable triggers. The difficulty of this task is
compounded by the tendency to replace one adrenaline-producing trigger with another.
As this process continues, an underlying depression is normally uncovered, sometimes
accompanied by the emergence of childhood memories. In severe cases, consultation
with a physician and even anti-depressant medication may be indicated. It is suggested
that, whenever manageable, the use of these drugs should be limited. There are
indications that effective resolution of the underlying phenomena may be slowed by an
over-reliance on medication.
Since this is a long-term procedure, facilitation of this unfolding process is greatly aided
by the use of some kind of continuing peer support. This can be as simple as the creation
of a small adrenaline support group, to the founding of an independent Adrenaline
Addicts Anonymous self-help meeting. (The Adrenaline Addicts Anonymous Web Site
may be found at
If the person can tolerate this phase of internal redevelopment, and manages to avoid
adopting too many new adrenaline-producing behaviors, a profound shift eventually
occurs. The individual not only becomes more fully conscious of their use of any
overabundance of adrenaline, but spontaneously begins to avoid its presence. The result,
even when impermanent, is a transformation that is nearly transcendental in nature.
There are cautions. As the process unfolds, there may be a period of withdrawal from
normal activities and relationships. Very often during this phase the person seeks and
experiences some form of spiritual evolution. In time, of course, most individuals return
to a more standard lifestyle, even though permanently modified by this experience.
The first task of the ethical Coach is to educate all involved regarding the fundamental
changes they may experience. Only then should they agree to help anyone set foot on the
pathway of adrenaline addiction recovery.

Larry I. Meadows
Copyright @ 1995

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