A research study interviewed two levels of rock climbers: high ability climbers that climb at levels similar to those you may have seen in The Dawn Wall or Oscar winning documentary Free Solo, as well as average-ability climbers. Several parallels became apparent between high-ability climbers and those suffering from addiction. They are shown primarily in response during periods of abstinence (when drug addicts are not using drugs and rock climbers are not climbing), where both drug addicts and rock climbers experience withdrawal, cravings (for their respected activities), and negative mood states.
The results showed that not only top-level climbers showed patterns of withdrawal and cravings, but as did the average climbers. In drug users we also see a variety in craving levels depending on the intensity of addiction. However, the study found that during abstinence high-ability climbers experienced more intense cravings, felt worse overall, and were more unhappy than the average-ability rock climbers.
Both groups of rock climbers also experience negative mood states, which are described similarly to the lows that are experienced by drug users during periods of abstinence. In these negative mood states, both groups of climbers, especially the high-ability climbers, were unfulfilled with many activities outside of climbing. High-ability climbers also had an increased threshold for pleasure, meaning they needed more of the activity to feel pleasure, and activities they previously enjoyed were no longer as enjoyable.