Addicted to the ink

Can you become addicted to tattoos? The word addiction is often tossed around when talking about tattoos. There are several physiological and psychological reasons why people believe it is possible to become addicted to this growing trend.

“They can be very addictive.  Once people get passed the initial fear, they realize it is not that bad and then one tattoo can turn into a full sleeve, it happened with me,” Taylor Leslie, Cambridge tattoo artist, explained. “The reason why people get addicted can be because it is a form of expression. They feel good, excited and want to talk about it. We always ask ‘should we book your next appointment now’, because we know they will come back. People think they will just get one and then one more and then one more, until they become addicted without realizing.”

Many people believe that tattoo addiction can be a form of attention seeking. While there are comparable forms of expression such as facial piercings and coloured hair, the permanent and painful nature of the tattoo puts them in a different category. Whether the attention is positive or negative, they may feel addicted to the tattoos for the attention the tattoos bring them.

The adrenaline rush a person receives while getting a tattoo may attract them to get another one. While the reasons for getting tattoos may vary from person to person; the process the body undergoes during the tattoo is relatively the same. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the human body responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response.

According to Science Daily, the response prepares the body to either fight or flee from the threat. The body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated by a sudden release of hormones. As a response, the sympathetic nervous system releases the adrenaline in response to the pain. It takes the body approximately 20-60 minutes to return to its pre-arousal levels.

Someone can be considered addicted to tattoos when they go from having zero to little tattoos to being heavily tattooed in a short period of time.

“The guy I’m dealing with right now he got one [tattoo] and then he wanted his daughters’ names tattooed and then he wanted something symbolic to represent his two Rottweiler’s that had recently passed away. Then he came back and I did three in one night, a Canadian flag, a Toronto maple leaf and roman numerals, they all had something to do with his family and where he comes from,” Leslie said. “They think it is trendy and they like the artwork, especially when they have meaning. They don’t all have meaning; a lot of them have to do with life experience.”

Many clients recognize the fact that if you can get through the pain of one tattoo then they can get great artwork on themselves for the rest of their life.

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. The form of art is becoming more acceptable within the community however; some managers and employers still see tattoos as unprofessional because of the rebellious and adventurous image they have once portrayed.


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