Tattoo addiction is a highly discussed topic in the field of tattooing, to be tattooed or not to be, that is the question. It’s often debated amongst artists and psychologists whether tattoo addiction is a real thing. The answer is that there is no answer. It’s open to interpretation by everyone, science can’t single-handedly prove if tattoo addiction is real, but neither can it prove that it’s not. However, we can look at the factors that make us return to that studio time after time because for some, a single ink is not enough.

The Prehistoric Picture

Before we delve in, we need to start at the beginning. Tattoo addiction, or at least the idea of it, could be in our genetics. The idea of tattooing goes back years and was prominent in tribes and cultures where tattoos were seen as ritualistic and important tradition. It can arguably be claimed that tattoos and people’s addictions to them have been around since 12,000 BC but we only have evidence that shows that the oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date was found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, which dated back to between 3370 and 3100 BC. After taking on different forms and purposes throughout history, tattoos have now become more popular than ever in modern societies with people from all walks of life getting a tattoo as well as developing the lust for more ink investments after the first few. Tattoos seem to run a life-cycle of positive and negative representations; from tribes to sailors, hipsters to gang members, tattoos have their unique identity in every culture. They have always been around, but their purpose, position and perceptions have changed immensely.

Society Switch-up

Tattoo addiction could be down to a change in society. Our perceptions of tattoos and why we have them have really kicked the tattoo industry into action in the last couple of years. A 2007 study suggested that women with tattoos tended to be viewed as “less physically attractive, more sexually promiscuous and heavier drinkers”. But a lot has changed in 11 years; more and more people are paying to get permanently inked so much so that it is leading to tattoo addiction. Tattoo addiction can, however, cause some problems down the line. Although not as prominent these days, several years ago tattoos could seriously limit career prospects for a lot of people, but it’s nice to see how society has changed as much as we have. Who says you can’t mix qualified and quirky.

Today, people are having much more fun with tattoos. From the likes of flash sales and gumball tattoo machines, tattoo addiction could be down to the nature of how cheap and easy good tattoos are to get a hold of. The process is now so safe and simple that there really is nothing stopping people from getting one or two personal pieces of artwork. There has also been a rise of tattoo fashion; the idea of people purely getting a tattoo because others are could be the trigger to starting an addiction to adding to their own bespoke collection. Anyone can get addicted to a craze or fad, even if its effects are permanent.

Subconscious Self-Expression

Let’s delve more into the head of a tattoo addict. Self-expression is important to a lot of people and for some, they choose to wear their heart on their sleeve. Science can’t explain if tattoo addiction is real, but it can explain the reasons why we go back for more. We get off on the high that a tattoo provides us with. The idea of having a new, exciting piece of body art that you like and admire can really boost your self-esteem and give you a sense of exhilaration, is this another factor leaning towards addiction? Maybe. Not only satisfaction gained from the likes of yourself but others too. Humans are socially built animals, like tattoo addiction we are addicted to attention from others in order to feel accepted. So when we get a new tattoo that is complimented or noticed by others, we get a sense of euphoria, which why some choose to go back under the needle.

Cornucopia of Chemicals

Let’s look at the science side of ‘tattoo addiction’. Although we can’t fully prove that people can be addicted to tattoos we can certainly look at the science behind why we enjoy them to start with. The first hormone in our tattoo addiction chemical cocktail is adrenaline. The pain and use of the needle kicks in your fight or flight mode, which in turn can cause the adrenaline rush to become easily addictive. Second in line, endorphins. When getting a tattoo, our body releases an abundance of endorphins providing us with the needed pain relief similar to the effects of morphine, however, endorphins do much more than numb the pain. Endorphins improve the response of the immune system, they give us a feeling of euphoria and an increase in the release of sex hormones. With so many added effects that boost your body, it’s easy to understand how tattoo addiction could become a possibility. You can perceive the tattoo process as a sort of natural high that relies on the body’s chemicals to be successful, if a studio is clean and safe there is no reason you can’ have some body art fun, a body is just a blank canvas waiting to be painted. We should embrace fellow tattoo addicts, priding them for the pain and discomfort they go through to make themselves into an individual piece of art.

At Premier Tattoo Supplies, we stock a wide variety of popular brands and products to make sure a client’s tattoo comes out perfect every time so that they keep coming back for more. Come and see us in our Mansfield store or online where you can find a wide variety of products to suit any artists and clients needs.