Addiction Recovery

Risk-Taking and Addiction


Substance use disorder and risky behavior can create a dangerous cycle. Visit us today to learn more about how The Edge Treatment Center can help.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery

January 13, 2022

Risk-taking behavior can be difficult to witness and engaging in such behavior can seem illogical from the outside. However, there are several reasons an individual may partake in these risky behaviors.

For some, these dangerous actions can indicate that either an individual may already have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol or that they are at an increased risk of developing an addiction.

While not every risky thrill seeker necessarily suffers from addiction, the mentalities behind these actions can reveal that the individual has behavioral patterns that may make substance abuse become an issue down the line.

What Is Risk-Taking?

Risk-taking behaviors are behaviors that an individual engages in while knowing about and accepting a degree of potential harm. While this definition seems fairly universal, it is not the same thing as seeking excitement. While an individual may enjoy the exhilaration of going on roller coasters, this isn’t the same kind of “risky” behavior since an individual approaches the coaster with a reasonable expectation to be kept safe. Extreme risk-takers may shun these kinds of safety nets to their detriment.

Risk-taking behavior can encompass a myriad of actions. Those who exhibit such behavior may approach these behaviors generally, being open to new and riskier experiences, while others may repeat certain dangerous habits often, accepting the same or higher degree of risk each time. 

Unsafe driving practices, such as rapidly switching lanes and speeding, can be common forms of risky behavior. Others may engage in risky behaviors regarding sex, whether through multiple partners or engaging in sex without the use of proper protection. Still, others may attempt jumps or tricks that are unsafe or above their skill level without safety measures in place. While these behaviors can have major physical ramifications like potentially resulting in injury, disease, or unwanted pregnancy, there are other kinds of risks that one could take that fall under the umbrella of “risky behavior.” Gambling or overinvesting in the stock market or cryptocurrencies can be just as risky if one wagers a too-large sum without savings or a backup plan. Lastly, any actions that can carry legal consequences, such as shoplifting or trespassing, are also risky behaviors. 

Why Take the Chance?

There can be numerous reasons why one may engage in this kind of behavior. For some, the thrill and excitement of it all can be intoxicating, creating a rush in one’s body that an individual is compelled to repeat. Others may see these risks as somehow necessary for a greater perceived reward — whether that be monetary (in the case of gambling) or experiential (such as in sex). There are other, deeper, reasons for these behaviors as well. 

First, it is important not to underestimate the power of media. YouTube channels, TikToks, Instagram accounts—all of these reward unique behaviors and concepts, and the advent of these forums can actively promote risky behavior for social gain in the form of likes and views. One such example is the recent 2021 TikTok trend, “devious licks,” where students were celebrated for stealing, typically from one’s public school and posting on their accounts. Others may engage in these risky behaviors as a result of low self-esteem or a compromised sense of self-worth. The benefits of being noticed outweigh the potential consequences of risky behaviors.

Risk-Taking Behavior and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are all incredibly common and destructive risk-taking behaviors. Binging and the use of addictive and mind-altering substances at dangerous times, such as while driving or at work, are common risks one may take. Addictive substances are a way an individual can continue to try to “spice up” daily life in an attempt to pursue a feeling of excitement or novelty, even at the risk of one’s health, relationships, employment, or legal consequence. Addictive substances like drugs or alcohol can be tempting to those looking to pursue these risky behaviors due to their accessibility. Further, it can be difficult to regulate one’s use in these situations as the addictive substance tightens its grip on the user. People who have a high propensity for risk-taking may find the potential danger of substance use enjoyable and difficult to stop.

The use of drugs and alcohol has a myriad of negative effects, and not just in the immediate consequence of their use. The buildup of tolerance as an individual ingests more and more of an addictive substance to reach the same high or exhilaration as before paves the way for addictive substances to become ever more common in one’s life. Substance abuse and risky behaviors can develop into a dangerous cycle as novelties become more difficult to come by and more drastic risks are taken, culminating in addiction compounded with other risky habits. Tackling addiction in these situations requires studying the underlying reasons for such risky behaviors — whether they be peer-driven, self-esteem-oriented, or a combination. They must be addressed before the risks and consequences take a more disastrous toll. 

While one does not necessarily beget the other, their relationship can provide the needed insight to begin taking steps towards a healthier, sober, and safer future. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand how these behaviors can impact an individual on the surface and are prepared to help you begin to explore not just the effects of addiction in one’s life but also the underlying anxieties or stress that may inform one’s risky decisions. Your time with us is also backed by a personalized approach to your needs and goals. Learn more by calling us today.

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