Are Tattoos An Addiction?

The longstanding connection between tattoos and individuals of questionable character does not solely account for why tattoos (and the people sporting them) are often given a bad reputation. While this connection is becoming less and less of a factor with each new generation, today the subject of tattoos has yet another cloud over its reputation; it is darker, and seldom based on the truth.

From both informed and uninformed persons, there are repeated insinuations about the “addictive” characteristics of tattooing. Many people model numerous tattoos; some have been acquired over a number of years, while others make frequent trips to their favorite tattoo studios, but randomly labeling this as an “addiction” is unwarranted, impractical, and rarely based on truth.

Each person has his or her own specific reason for getting tattoos and it is impossible to know their reasoning unless he or she states it. Some people enjoy the artwork, some feel it is an expression of honor to a special person, others get tattoos in order to feel a part of some specific group, and there are those who just enjoy spending money. In other words, it is very rarely a matter of being “addicted” to them.

This misconception has two parts, both playing a role in giving a bad reputation to both tattoos and the people who choose to get them. The first misconception is that people are addicted to the tattoos themselves and the second is that people are addicted to the process of getting them– specifically, “addicted to pain”. This line of thinking may bring into question the mindset of a person who states the latter opinion; but it without doubt provides quite a scope of misunderstandings on the entire subject.

One tattoo artist, in remarking that tattoos are a “fever”, had been referring to the simple, if odd, enjoyment many of his clients had in being able to afford permanent artwork for themselves. “I think I’ll get another one” was something often heard in his studio. This did not constitute “addiction” by any definition of the word. Nor, in his decades of practice as a tattoo artist, did he ever have a customer who even vaguely enjoyed the discomfort of the tattooing process.

Those who know too well what “addiction” really means, often toss around the word and its erroneous applicability to tattoos. The definition of addiction is a compulsion over which a person has no self-control. A person who is addicted cannot make a distinction between a “want” and a “need”.

Individuals who do have numerous addictions– drugs, alcohol, behaviors, etc.– can very well become addicted to tattoos. However, addiction is certainly not the mainstream reason for the majority of people who decide to get them. Most people who get tattoos do so simply because they want them no because they possess the weakness of character which leads addicts to be compelled to do something.

The theory that a person gets tattoos because he or she is addicted to pain and therefore enjoys the painful process of being tattooed can only come from either the most ignorant or those who have some personal issues of their own.

Sadly, both of these misconceptions cast a negative light on both the topic of tattoos and the people who sport them. It is a bad reputation that neither deserves. While some who get tattoos have less than desirable motives, most people get them without any negative attachment to either the tattoos or the process.

The bottom line is, if someone is attempting to convince you that getting a tattoos is an addiction, you’ve probably found someone who actually is an addict and does not realize that most people are not.