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									                   Einstein once said that           38 Weeks of
33                 the     definition
                   stupidity is doing the
                   same thing over and
                   over and expecting
                                         of
                                                      Wellness!
                                                    Adrenaline Addiction


06                 different        results.
Sometimes however, it isn’t stupidity
that causes this behavior, but something
far more insidious and painful:
                                                Excerpts from Patrick Lencioni
                                                        and Tom Heck

                                                   Compiled By Lisa Schilling RN


55
addiction. Many struggle with an
addiction that hurts their jobs, their
families, and their personal satisfaction.
I’m not talking about the need for drugs
                                               talking on their cell phones during every
                                               five-minute break, and checking e-mail
                                               late at night. They go from one thing to


5
or alcohol, but rather another chemical,
of sorts: adrenaline.

Adrenaline is:
• A source of energy. Humans will go to
any length to get the quickest, easiest
                                               the next with no time in between for
                                               reflection     or      thought.


                                               even panic, to get them through the
                                                                                  Always
                                               overwhelmed, adrenaline junkies seem
                                               to have a constant need for urgency,

                                               day. They cannot grasp the race driver’s
source of energy. Adrenaline produces          motto: you have to slow down to go fast.
energy; not the most healthful, but is         Instead, they keep their foot on the pedal
continually available.                         at full throttle, convinced that any
• A racket. Humans succumb to this drug        deceleration is lost opportunity. Like an
instead of letting their hearts decide.        alcoholic after a night of binge drinking,
• A medicant. Adrenaline rushes to help        an adrenaline addict will often sit home
a person “blast through” difficult times.      at night wondering how life became so
Problem is, the adrenaline junkie creates      chaotic, and vowing to take back control
crises just for the rush. When a person is     the next day. And then that day begins
“on” adrenaline, they have a respite from      and their addiction kicks in, giving them
pain and feelings are covered up.              a sense of comfort even as it hurts them.
• A nasty habit which creates a lifestyle.             There is something particularly
To get the rush, humans do soul-               insidious about adrenaline addiction that
damaging things: careers, greed, getting       makes it hard for many to kick the habit.
ahead, winning, keeping self in survival       Unlike other addicts whose behaviors
in order to have something to win at etc.      are socially frowned-upon, adrenaline
• A toxin, which keeps healthy people          addicts are often praised for their frantic
away. Those who are “over” adrenaline          activity, even promoted for it during
or are not adrenaline-based usually            their careers. And so they often wear
won’t develop close relationships with         their problem like a badge of honor,
adrenaline addicts; it is too upsetting and    failing to see it as an addiction at all in
painful. So the addict is surrounded by        spite of the pain it causes.
those with broken wings, co-dependents                 When confronted about their
or other addicts.                              problem, adrenaline addicts will tell you
                                               about their endless list of responsibilities
The Profile                                    and all the people who need their
       People with adrenaline addiction        attention. And while they’ll often
are the ones always pecking away at            complain about their situation, they’ll
their Blackberries during meetings,            quickly brush off any constructive
advice from spouses, friends or co-           Slow way down, you do have the
workers who “just don’t understand.”          time.

Adrenaline Trigger and Solution              The Cost
                                                     Of course, the first casualties of
 Over promising results, even a little.     the adrenaline addiction are the addicts
  Deliberately under promise,                themselves. As they get busier and
  regardless of the person’s reaction        busier, with no relief in sight, the rush
  or consequence.                            from their addiction subsides and their
 Arriving exactly on time or late.          job and personal satisfaction starts to
  Leave 15 minutes early for every           plummet. Activities that they once
  appointment                                enjoyed, that they aspired to do for
 Shoulds and have to’s; someone.            years, suddenly become drudgery,
     else’s agenda                           causing the quality of their work to drop
  Get rid of all shoulds, regardless         too. When they come to the conclusion
 Being optimistic during a rough            that they’re working harder than ever,
     time.                                   with less results and personal
  Surrender to the tough time. Don’t         satisfaction, frustration only increases.
  try to see it better than it is or worse           But the addict is not the only
  than it is.                                victim of this problem. Those around
 Doing one thing in order to get            them find themselves whipped in
     another thing.                          different directions, seemingly at
  Just do the latter and see if it works.    random, based on whatever issue is
 Having current unresolved matters in       causing this persons adrenaline to spike.
     your life.                              Strategic planning goes out the window,
  The average person has at least 100        replaced by reactivity and self-inflicted
  unresolved matters. Take care of           crisis management. No one is spared
  them.                                      from the effects of the addiction. The
                                             people who work directly with an addict
 Holding back from another, being
                                             must respond to – even enable – the
     nice, being mad, not owing up to
                                             addiction, and inevitably pass the panic
     something you did.
                                             on. Of course, the personal life of an
  Have a heart-to-heart conversation
                                             adrenaline addict is not immune from the
  and become intimate.
                                             problem       either.    Decreased      job
 Not asking for what you need.
                                             satisfaction, increased stress and more
  Be specific and ask before you need
                                             time at work affect families in profound
  it.
                                             and painful ways.
 Tolerations; things you’re putting up
     with.
                                             Recovery
  Put up with nothing, re-educate                    So what can addicts do to combat
  people.
                                             this problem? First, they need to
 Letting people walk all over you.          understand what kind of addict they are
  Expand your boundaries.                    so that they can get to the root of their
 Trying to prove something by your          problem – because not all adrenaline
     results.                                addicts are the same. Here are the four
  Shift from results to people and           types:
  pleasure.                                          1. The Accomplisher – this is
 Driving faster than the speed limit.       the classic type of adrenaline addict, the
one who has an almost innate need to         These types of adrenaline addiction,
stay busy and cross things off a list in     though different, have some elements in
order to feel productive. They like to be    common. Certainly, many addicts will
able to measure daily progress in terms      see more than one type in their own
of what they have completed, even at the     behavior.
expense of the bigger, longer term view.
Accomplishers are most susceptible to        What others will say or think about
developing an adrenaline addiction           the Adrenaline addict:
because they are prone to take on more       • Boy, is he on all the time. How can his
and more work.                               spouse take it?
         2. The Personal Deflector – this    • I know he listened to what I said, but I
is the type that uses their addiction to     don’t think he heard me.
keep from assessing themselves and           • You can count on Karen to be late;
reflecting on their situation. They often    that’s just her.
have problems in their personal lives –      • Jerry is always so busy. What is he
or no personal life at all – and the last    always doing?
thing they want to do is face up to that.    • Susan works too hard. What’s with
So they convince themselves that they        her?
have no time for their personal lives;       • Why does Michael put himself through
which, sadly, only exacerbates the           all that stress? I think he likes it or
problem and prolongs the pain of dealing     something.
with it.                                     • He always said he works best under
         3.     The        Organizational    pressure, but he’s including us, too.
Deflector – this type is like the previous
one, except that the issue being avoided     The Recovery Process
is trouble within the organization. Often    • Stop the triggering behavior.
a boss of a struggling company               • Be willing to be very bored, until your
convinces himself/herself, as well as        new energy source kicks in (3-6
others, that he or she is too busy to stop   months).
and take an honest look at the               • Speak truthfully and completely to
company’s situation. As the business         everyone and yourself in order to let go
spirals, the adrenaline addict only works    of the residue and heal.
harder, trying to be convinced that the      • Hire a coach, therapist, or experienced
problem can be solved by working more        consultant.
hours at breakneck speed. The                • Install a Strong Personal Foundation to
organizational deflector will do anything    keep you well and adrenaline-free.
to avoid confronting the real problems
which are often more complex and             Adrenaline addiction is a recoverable
require real change.                         condition
         4. The Dramatist – some             • Adrenaline addicts can recover usually
adrenaline addicts get a degree of           by simply changing select behaviors.
satisfaction from their addiction because    • Recovery can be helped along by
it gives them an opportunity to draw         identifying the top 20 personal “triggers”
attention to themselves and their plight.    which start the rush and then eliminating
They complain about and describe their       the triggers (see “Adrenaline Triggers”
overwhelming situation, seemingly            above).
seeking admiration or pity from those
upon whom they unload their problems.
• Adrenaline addicts recover faster with                Recovering addicts enjoy and
the help of a therapist or adrenaline-          understand the need to take a breath
recovered coach.                                from time to time, to step back from
• Adrenaline addicts will go through a          their daily grind to assess and reflect
withdrawal period of usually 6-12               where they are professionally, as well as
months.                                         personally. And just as importantly, they
                                                prevent their peers, their co-workers and
The Treatment                                   their families from having to deal with
        But how do they overcome their          the secondary effects of their addiction.
addiction? Like any other addiction,
the first step is acknowledging that            Adrenaline Addict Self-Test
they have a problem, and that it is one         Yes No
they want to change. Until that happens,         I drink caffeinated coffee or drinks to
there is little or no hope of improvement.         get or keep going.
        The second step is for them to let       I eat sugar to calm myself down.
their peers and subordinates know that           I tend to over promise and then rush
they are trying to kick the habit, because         to get it done at the last minute.
many of these people have become                 I find some way to sabotage myself
enablers over the years and have learned           or a project, yet usually pull it off.
to play to the person’s addiction. Those         I tend to take on more than I really
people must be given explicit permission           want because I feel I can.
to stop enabling the behavior.                   I react strongly to the unexpected.
        Finally, an adrenaline addict            I find myself getting very upset or
needs to confront whatever issue                   irritated (whether I show it or not)
underlies        the      problem.       For       when people let me down, miss
Accomplishers, it may be a false need to           deadlines or do less-than-optimal
prove that they are worthy of their jobs.          work. Sometimes I take it personally.
For the Personal Deflectors, it will             I arrive at work rushed or already
involve having the courage to look at              “on”.
their lives holistically and honestly,           I get grabbed by surprises and
maybe with the help of a counselor of              disturbances and then I can’t calm
some       kind.     The     Organizational        down for a day or more.
Deflectors need to embrace the real facts        I feel an inner rush or lack of
about their situation. And the Dramatists          stillness or peace much of the time.
probably need to address a deeper issue          I am clearly winning at work, yet
in their lives, one that involves their self-      working very hard.
esteem. They need to disconnect their            I’m the kind of person who tends to
personal needs from those of the                   find the toughest way to get
business.                                          something done.
        What are the benefits of kicking         I drive more than 5 miles over the
an adrenaline habit? People who are not            speed limit, tailgate or criticize other
adrenaline addicts make purposeful                 drivers.
decisions about how they spend their             I tend to run or arrive late, even if
time and where they give their attention.          it’s not my fault.
They may be wildly busy at times, but            I find that I attract more problems
they choose to be that way for limited             and disturbances than I feel I
periods of time because the situation              deserve.
truly warrants it.
 Money is currently tight and I have
  been working on getting ahead, but
  haven’t.
 It is difficult to focus on any one
  thing for more than 10 minutes at a
  time.
 I don’t give myself plenty of time
  during the day for the things that are
  likely to come up.
 I talk a lot even after people have
  stopped listening.
 I please people to the point of feeling
  compulsive, regardless of
  appropriateness or cost.

   Scoring: If you answered yes to 5 or
   more of these, welcome to the club.
   When you’re ready, willing and
   able, invest in outside counsel to get
   through this addiction.

								
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