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Drugs are bad, m'kay

Written by  
Jeb Corliss

drugs vs. adrenaline by Jeb Corliss

JEB CORLISS explains how he sees the difference between Adrenaline and Drugs.

Jeb Corliss: I have never liked the term “adrenaline junkie.”

I see it as a dismissive term from people trying to categorize action sports athletes with drug addicts. “Normal” people can’t see themselves doing these extreme activities, so they label the person who does them as either insane or addicted to some drug-like substance called adrenaline. I see drug use as almost exactly opposite to people doing extreme activities, and this is why

You would never call an astronaut an adrenaline junkie.

What they do causes adrenaline for sure, but that is not their motivation for doing what they do. An astronaut has set a goal that’s trying to push the human species forward. A junkie is motivated only by the feeling. The junkie injects a drug into their system with no other goal than getting a rush or a feeling of euphoria. An astronaut is trying to accomplish a complex goal, and however that goal makes them feel is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is accomplishing the objective.

Astronauts do their work almost in spite of things like adrenaline, not because of them.

I feel that many action sports athletes fit into this category. They are goal oriented and more about high-performance human achievement. I have listened to many interviews and notice when they are asked questions like, “Why do you do this?” many find it difficult to answer. They say things like, “I do it for the rush,” or, “Because it’s fun,” not realizing they’re failing to answer the question. All they’re doing is talking about a feeling. Lots of things are fun, but what makes this fun? Why are you willing to risk injury or death to do this particular activity? If they would take the time to truly analyze themselves, I think they would come to understand it’s about doing things other human beings are incapable of doing. It’s about training their minds and bodies so they can perform at optimal levels and push what the human species is capable of. They are trying to connect to the reality that exists outside themselves.

Jeb Corliss and wingsuit proximity flight at the pyramids.

From what I have seen, most drug addicts seem to be trying to escape reality.

They usually seem to suffer from pain, either mental or physical or both, and are just trying to numb what hurts. They don’t like the reality in which they live, so they try to alter it to become something more pleasant. In my experience, people doing extreme activities have completely different sets of motivations. Instead of retreating from pain or fear, they actually seem to seek it out. (I can’t really speak for others here because everyone has their own motivation for doing things, so I will speak from my own experience and what my motivations have become.)

I am constantly trying to connect to the external reality in which I exist.

When you perform an activity that you know can kill you, something special happens in the brain. This is something you can’t fake. Your mind knows you are in real danger. You enter a state that goes by many different names. Some call it “the now” or “flow state.” Others call it “fight or flight” or “time distortion.” Whatever name people label it with, what they are really talking about is the body understanding that it needs to do something with precision correctly in the next few moments or something bad will happen. Once the mind enters this state, it releases everything your body has in order to operate at optimum levels. Your senses become heightened—sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, and a few others we don’t fully understand yet, you become supercharged, connecting you to reality at the highest levels possible. This true high-level connection to the environment helps you perform the task at hand. Thatconnection to reality is the entire point of existence. We are here to experience reality for what it actually is, not what we would like it to be.

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