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Is Toronto & Vancouver Addicted To Tattoos?

Is Toronto & Vancouver Addicted To Tattoos?

Cruising downtown along Yonge Street could give anyone the impression that Toronto & Vancouver has a tattoo addiction. About 1-in-5 people in our city have tattoos, and we have some of the best tattoo shops in the world. This leads us to wonder:

Can people be addicted to tattoos?

We’ve all met people who claim to have tattoo addictions. Whether they love the feeling, the experience, the social attention, the look, or some combination one thing is for sure - they keep going back. We take a look at whether tattoo addictions are real. For our tattoo artists, tattooing definitely feels like a compulsion. In most art forms, the best artists feel the same way - creation is a necessity. Admittedly, it’s hard to prove this constitutes addiction rather than passion. But for those who claim addiction to getting tattooed, there are numbers and scientific data we can take a look at. Full Colour Phoenix Backpiece

Tattoo addiction, by the numbers

A good place to start is to simply talk to people with tattoos. Statistic Brain found that ⅓ people with tattoos claim to be addicted. That may not count as scientific fact, but it gives an idea of people's’ mentality. This figure has some back-up as well. After all, the overwhelming majority of people with tattoos have more than one.
  • 70% of people with tattoos get more than one
  • 20% of people with tattoos have more than five
The numbers do seem to support the idea, but they aren’t conclusive on their own. To build a clearer picture, let’s look at the science.

The euphoria of getting tattooed

Taking a look at the scientific benefits of tattoos we find that their effects go far beyond surface level. The experience of tattooing creates an emotional experience and releases endorphins and adrenaline. The result is a feeling of euphoria. A lot of people ask, “do tattoos hurt?” Although the answer is yes, it’s also true that tattoos feel good - and it’s because of this euphoric rush. It’s common for people to cite this feeling as one of the reasons to come back for new tattoos again and again. The idea of adrenaline addictions is not a new idea. During the rise of extreme sports, we heard the term Adrenaline Junkie. Their sensation-seeking behaviour is actually a hereditary behaviour many psychologists consider to be a legitimate addiction. By that definition, however, tattoos would be an extension of the adrenaline addiction, not a tattoo addiction on its own. Getting a tattoo doesn’t mean you’re an adrenaline addict. However, adrenaline addicts are more likely to get tattoos.

Tattoo Addict

Social attention of tattoos

Addiction is not limited to physical dependence, psychological dependence is just as large of a driver. Tattoos can offer a degree of social attention that some consider addictive. People take notice of tattoos. They can enhance social status, bond with others, or raise self-esteem. In this way, tattoos can create a better sense of self. But can this lead to addiction?

So is tattoo addiction real?

It’s no surprise that most people who get tattoo end up getting more. The experience itself is euphoric and the social attention and self-expression allow people to feel confident and free. For some, the process is even therapeutic. But claiming actual addiction is a little excessive. The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as:

“Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

As much as we love tattoos, those who keep coming for more get tattoos because they want them. Not because of a debilitating need for them. And so long as you visit safe tattoo shops in Toronto & Vancouver there are no life-altering health risks. Tattoos are a passion, not an addiction.
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