Is there really such a thing as tattoo addiction?
Many people without tattoos can get that impression when they see a body covered in art. Is it a myth or reality? Anecdotal evidence and even some testimony from people with tattoos makes us lean toward the conclusion that those covered in ink ... have a problem.
"There is an addiction. It's the rush," said Austin Waetly of Oregon. Waetly is in Rapid City for a retirement ceremony and just had to stop in at the first Black Hills Tattoo Convention to get inked.
Even first-timer Jade Sheard of Pierre was ready for her second tattoo even before the first ink went under her skin at the Black Hills Tattoo booth. "Everybody I talked to ... they'll get one and then pretty soon they'll have another one and another one. My mom has four, I think."
Mom, is Shelly Carroll, herself sporting a bandage covering fresh ink. "I got one today. I got my fourth one today," Carroll said.
Doctor Mryna Armstrong of Texas Tech University says there could be some addiction but the issue really hasn't been studied. People with multiple tattoos may just like the process, she explained.
Others may covet the tattoo itself, becoming what is called a collector of body art. Jennifer Hathcoat of Arkansas is one of those collectors. After years of thinking tattoos were ugly, Jennifer softened and got inked. Pretty soon she had another and then a sleeve of tattoos, followed by another sleeve and now, it is almost a full body tattoo.
There is a suggested link to a pain addiction but Armstrong says it is more likely that the end result outweighs any discomfort.
Or, it could be as simple as what University of Connecticut professor Angus Vail says ... "Tattoos are like potato chips. You just can't have one."
"You look at it and you love what you like ... especially if you get a good tattoo. Then you think, 'Oh, I want more of that!' That's beautiful," Hathcoat says.
While tattooing is on the rise, so is the industry surrounding the removal of them, up 17 percent in a five-year stretch. Why? Embarrassment over a youthful mistake, poor quality of an old tattoo, or just to make room for new ink.