Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. I wanted to know if they are addictive, and found some contradicting answers:

If people can get addicted to risky sports just for the thrills they provide, they can also get addicted to painful activities where endorphins provide relief, "despite the harm to self and/or others," says Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in an email interview. "For example, someone who compulsively cuts herself for the endorphin release is causing self-harm. Someone who compulsively runs, even to the point of causing musculoskeletal injury, is causing self-harm."

Source: https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/can-be-addicted-to-endorphins.htm

In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/endorphins_natural_pain_and_stress_fighters/views.htm#

If they are not, how can we explain the 'love' for pain in (this content might be sensitive for some of you) some people?


Addiction specialists and others who study human behavior often catageorize addiction into the two broad categories of physical dependence and psycological dependence. They are not always mutually exclusive, and they can both manifest in serious or mild cases of addiction depending on the person and a number of other factors.

What differentiates them is how they affect your physiology. A person severly addicted to alcohol or opioids can become extremely ill or even die from the withdrawl of those substances, due to the strong physical dependence their body has developed. To my knowledge, people do not experience a physical withdrawl after cessation of compulsive pain seeking behaviors. Since they didn't cite any source, we can only guess as to the intended meaning of your second source, but it's probably related to this lack of withdrawl. A quick search on PubMed shows publications referring to certain endorphins as mediating this type of addiction. Meaning that the endorphin is not addictive per se, but a compulsive or addictive behavior can be communicated to the brain in terms of a native neurochemical pathway which is otherwise a normal part of a healthy brain.

I think the lesson here is to be somewhat skeptical of online sources that don't link to peer-reviewed science. Attempts to simplify a topic for the purposes of communicating with a lay audience often result in more confusion than clarity. And if you search something on PubMed or google scholar, you'll probably find an answer in the same amount of time it took you to post your question here.


Pain is not an endorphin but p substance triggers reactions to form opioids and those are endorphins. There is a lot of research about serotonin and dopamine being highly addictive.


Here they review this and explain it a little bit

From a psychological point of view people harm them self because they want to sentence themselves, but there are very much deviations and you can not put anybody in the same pot...

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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to biology.se. Answers are expected to explain and give an answer to the question, not mainly link to another source. Please edit your question accordingly to avoid its deletion. Also please have a look into the Help center on answering questions. $\endgroup$ – Chris May 17 '20 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ I have huge problems dealing with you guys here, there is the explanation Substance P triggers opioid secretion, what else do you need? $\endgroup$ – LIT May 18 '20 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ It‘s now 2020 and before 1970 they already knew the biomolecular way how pain triggers addiction, and you can not take my 3 words - opioid - substance p - secretion and make a quick google research it‘s awful how you guys are here on this channels. $\endgroup$ – LIT May 18 '20 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ If you like it or not - in this community an answer is expected to answer something and not point to another resource or a google search only. $\endgroup$ – Chris May 19 '20 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ Anyway I gave an accurate answer substance p leads to expression of opioids. Opioids make addictive what do you need more? All the stuff after is just some other stuff to read because it‘s interesting for me and has not a real link to the question above... his question is inaccurate pointing to an interview and not to science, so what do you want from me? $\endgroup$ – LIT May 21 '20 at 11:32

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