People living with addiction experience sensation seeking. But hasn’t everyone experienced sensation-seeking? The difference lies in how dependent, and a person abuses sensation-seeking. What would be abuse? Say choosing to gamble, for example, instead of going to work, or having dinner with your friends. At first, that experience is just something that’s fun. Cravings, high rates of relapse, increased tolerance, and withdrawal come as a person develops addiction
This pattern of addiction has been found to be true in extreme sports including skydiving, downhill skiing, and rock climbing. Heirene and colleagues set out to investigate if rock climbing is a behavioral addiction. They conducted detailed interviews with average and experienced climbers, looking to determine if the participants could experience withdrawal when taking a break from climbing. They asked how much the participants were craving climbing, and measured their levels of anhedonia – the reduced interest or pleasure in other activities which used to make them happy prior to stopping climbing specifically.
How the participants feel towards climbing seems to mirror how people experiencing drug or behavioral addiction feel. But his may mean it can stimulate the same areas of the brain, as drugs or gambling, and it may be an option for people who want to quit. Quitting an addiction can be very difficult without support, community, and something to fill your time. Rock climbing is a community based exercise which relies on collaboration and encouragement. Climbing may be a viable treatment for those struggling with addiction.