When the patrons at T-Doggs start talking about addiction, it’s not the old favorites that you hear mentioned. Instead, they’re speaking of tattoos, the growing fad that just won’t stop.
T-Doggs is a piercing and tattoo parlor north of St. Louis. Tony, the owner and tattoo artist, tells SciJourner that some of their patrons have over 50 tattoos; and they are not stopping there.
“I feel a release during the tattooing process,” claims Tandalya. “While I’m getting tattooed, I’m already looking to see what tattoo I’m going to get next.”
Natalie, a University of Missouri-St. Louis college student, claims she felt a rush after each tattoo experience.
What is this rush or release that they are referring to? According to MedicineNet.com, an online healthcare media publishing company, when the body is experiencing tremendous pain, it naturally releases endorphins, pain-relieving proteins, into the bloodstream. Once endorphins are released, they bind to opiate receptors in the brain.
This arrangement causes the person to feel less pain. In addition to suppressing the pain, endorphins can make you feel euphoric. The amount of endorphins released by the body varies from person to person.
Although people with multiple tattoos agree that it is addictive, their reasons for the addiction vary.
Tandalya has 14 tattoos and says that she uses the tattooing experience as a stress reliever. Natalie, an UMSL student with 2 leg tattoos, states that she uses the tattooing process as a way “to step out of depression”. Tony, who has full body tattoos, says he got multiple tattoos to balance out the art on his body. Rosemary attributes her multiple tattooing, currently 7, as a form of expression that allows her to rebel in an acceptable manner.
The tattoo industry is growing with over 15,000 tattoo parlors within the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. Tattoo artist are receiving positive publicity by sporting their talent on popular television shows, like Miami Ink and LA Ink.
A 2003 Harris Poll report indicated that about 40 million Americans have at least one tattoo compared to only 10 million Americans in 1936. More recently, a 2006 study by the Pew Research Center found that around 36% of Generation Next (born between the years 1981-1988) and 40% of Generation X (years 1966-1980) have at least one tattoo.
Generation X and Generation Next are bombarding the tattoo parlors. Wherever there is a gathering, tattooing is sure to be a conversational piece. Regardless of the tremendous pain that they claim to feel, a lot of people from this age group end up with multiple tattoos. With this growing fad some are wondering if tattooing is a true addiction, due to an endorphin rush, or because they just like it.
The patrons at T-Dogg all admit that they did feel a rush either during or after the tattooing process, but the rush isn’t intense enough to make tattooing an addiction, they say.