Posts tagged with "Tattoos"

Do you have an addictive personality, or just a healthy enthusiasm?

February 24, 2020

Some people cannot stop tweeting; others stream endless episodes of a favorite TV series, drink gallons of coffee each week; bet on competitive sports;  cover themselves with tattoos, jockey for position on video games, or visit tanning salons. While they may not be taking opioids, they still might be “addicted.”

But is there such a thing as an addictive personality? The informal answer is yes, according to the American Addiction Centers—one of the largest networks of rehab facilities nationwide.

Indeed, the rehabilitation experts describe “addictive personality” as an informal term that links particular personality traits to a higher risk of addiction or other problematic behaviors—such as drug abuse, cigarette smoking, gambling, or even constant social media use—according to a report by MindyBodyGreen 

“The term is used colloquially to refer to people who have tendencies that appear to lead to addiction-like behaviors,” says George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“Addictive personality” is a term often used in association with alcoholism, but you can also feel addicted to other things, like certain activities, people, foods, or physical objects. According to J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, behaviors like gambling, frequent social media use, or even video gaming can also be addictive.

“For people who are addicted to these behaviors—and even those who just derive intense enjoyment from them—engaging in these behaviors can result in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is the final common pathway of basically every drug of abuse,” Dr. Boyd told MindyBodyGreen.

He also notes that you can even be addicted to another person in a dating relationship because of this neurochemical response. That said, an unhealthy addiction is very different from healthy enthusiasm.

“Being addicted to something means it has taken over your life and that you are sacrificing important things in your life in service of the addiction,” says Boyd. Koob describes addiction similarly as “being stuck in a cycle in which a person binges on a substance, feels discomfort when the substance wears off, and is preoccupied with procuring and using the substance again.” (And again, this doesn’t apply only to physical substances—it can also be behaviors or experiences.)

On the flip side, “enthusiasm means that you might love something and even that you might look forward to it much of the time, but you are not and will not compromise basic important elements in your life,” Boyd says. 

Some experts believe that the term “addicted” is used too loosely to explain behaviors that are closer to enthusiasm, so Boyd uses exercise as an example of this distinction: An enthusiastic exerciser will look forward to workouts but probably won’t work out when they’re sick, he says. An exercise “addict,” on the other hand, might continue exercising even when they have the flu, despite adverse outcomes. 

“There are definitely individuals who are prone to become addicted in various ways,” Boyd says, noting that addiction is often a combination of both genetics and the environment. “Some of this is based on personal history, but much of it is determined by having a family history of addiction.”

According to MindBodyGreen, people who are at a higher-than-average risk for addiction may have some of the following markers:

  • A close family member with an addiction. Boyd says individuals born to parents who have an addiction are more likely to become addicted themselves, and lots of research backs this up. Overall, it appears that genetic heritability affects addiction by between 40% and 70%—but Koob is careful to note that this genetic component comes from many different pathways, and the likelihood of developing an addiction is due to both the environment and your genetics.
  • An OCD diagnosis. Several other disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, are more likely to co-occur with addiction.
  • Impulsive tendencies and trouble self-regulating. A study about video game addiction found that impulsive people might be more prone to developing an addiction.
  • Low self-esteem. For certain people, low self-esteem also appears to be associated with a higher risk for developing an addiction, according to the study about video gamers.
  • ADHD. A sibling study conducted in 1997 found certain people with ADHD may be more likely to develop substance use disorders, and more recent studies have found that ADHD and substance use disorders tend to co-occur in the same patients.
  • Social anxiety. People who feel lonely and anxious during social events are more likely to develop problematic internet use tendencies, according to a 2007 study. This may be because scrolling the internet can feel soothing in the moment, which helps to reduce overall feelings of anxiety or discomfort.
  • A traumatic history. Koob says people who have a history of abuse or trauma may be more likely to initiate substance abuse in order to reduce their discomfort.

Again, Koob is careful to note, “While there are tendencies that increase the risk of a substance use disorder, they don’t comprise a specific personality type, such as an addictive personality.”

Research contact: @mindbodygreen


Tattoo you?

May 4, 2018

Are you comfortable in your own skin? Interestingly enough, there are about 45 million Americans who have embellished their bodies with at least one tattoo, according to Statistic Brain—and over 30% of them say that it makes them feel more sexy, while 5% say that it makes them feel more intelligent.

Not only that, but the popularity of skin art is growing: Fully 36% of Americans, ages 18-25, have a tattoo; as well as 40% of those between the ages of 26 and 40.

What’s more, a May 1 article posted by the NBC Today Show claims that the number of women getting inked is rising faster than the number of men—and that women age 40-plus are even making tattoos part of their “bucket lists.”

“I have noticed an increase in women getting tattooed later in life, past their 40s,” Julie Duncan, a tattoo artist at Lady Luck Tattoo in Phoenix who recently gave 74-year-old Janice Graham her first tattoo told Today. “It’s honestly probably something they always wanted, but were too worried about social norms and being judged to actually get. I think it’s great.”

What’s more, few inked Americans stop at one; among those with any tattoos, seven in ten (69%) have two or more, according to a 2015 Harris Poll of 2, 225 U.S. adults.

The Harris pollsters found that rural (35%) and urban (33%) Americans are both more likely to get (or have) a tattoo than are suburbanites (25%). And those with kids in the household are much more likely than those without to sport at least one tattoo (43% versus 21%).

Some like their first tattoos so much that inking becomes addictive (32%)—but there are others who regret getting inked (17%) or some who even have their tattoo removed (11%), based on data amassed by Statistic Brain.

Top-ranked regrets, according to the Harris folks, include:

  • I was too young when they got the tattoo,
  • My tattoo does not fit my present lifestyle,
  • I still have my ex-boyfriend’s name on my arm,
  • My skin art was poorly done; and
  • It just isn’t meaningful.

Finally, about 5% of those with skin art have it covered up with another tattoo when it just doesn’t work for them anymore.

Research contact:

Tattoo You?

November 14, 2017

Nearly 40% of Americans born after 1980 have a tattoo—and 25% have a piercing some place other than an earlobe, Pew Research found in a recent study.

Indeed, according to Statista Survey, which also has looked at the body art phenomenon, only 39% of Americans are on the non-inked side of the fence.

Of those who say they have not gotten a tattoo yet, but are considering one, Statista says that the most common reason for hesitating is apprehension about the pain involved, followed by another anxiety— fear of falling out of love with the tattoo as they age.

At the top of the list of reasons for getting one was “to express my style and opinion” (38%). In second place was the similar, “to express my personal opinion” (37%). Making up the top three, family makes its way into the picture, with 34% saying their tattoo pays tribute to their children.

What’s more,  some want an even more radical body marking, using a number of, ahem, “cutting-edge” ways to express themselves, the Pew researchers report—including branding, scarification (scratching, etching or cutting to produce a design in the skin), or subdural implants (placing objects under the skin for ornamentation).

Nearly every state has some type of body art law, but regulations vary widely. Most states do agree on one thing: age limits. At least 45 states prohibit minors from getting tattoos, and 38 states prohibit body piercing and tattooing minors without parental permission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The sharp increase in Hepatitis C cases over the last few years has intensified states’ concern about sterile and sanitized needles and equipment and associated health and safety training.

The American Red Cross requires someone who has had a tattoo to wait one year to donate blood if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities — Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. No waiting period is required if the tattoo was applied in a state that requires tattoo shops to use sterile needles and single-use ink.

Finally, are body art fans welcomed in the workplace? Not always, but published a list last year of the companies who would welcome inked employees—among them, Whole Foods,Sally’s Beauty Supply, Trader Joe’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Ikea, Forever 21, Staples, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Research contact: