Sexual energy is a powerful drug. We know when we get aroused all the lovely chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure start to release. There are a few other chemicals in there as well...
Chemicals that help to create bonding between people.
Chemicals that suppress the sensations of pain.
Chemicals that are very addictive.
They've recently discovered that power exchange also can create its very own chemical reactions in the brain- many are the same as those we get when we use drugs. Dopamines, Endorphins,and the like... a very strong brew in their own right, even without the sexual element.
Some people remember the first occasion of these feelings as far back as 6 years old or even younger.
BDSM is not always fulfilled by simply sexual chemicals, because in a lot of the people who have this experience, the first BDSM experience was PRE-sexual.
So even though it can get laced together with sexuality, just as sexuality can get laced together with drug use or other highs, sexuality does not capture the full origin nor the scope of the feeling or the associated brain chemicals. This is why we repeatedly say in BDSM "it's not necessarily sexual" and people tend to get very confused.
As an example, which is very common, a young male, regardless of his age or his sexual maturity,
(most told story ever)
A boy hangs out with some girls (or boys, as this experience can be a PRE sexual one, therefore homosexuality isn't even a factor here) in the woods, playing cowboys and indians, He gets tied up. He may be tortured, all in the spirit of play,.. This is just a normal children's game, (like wrestling or roughhousing, which also release their own lovely drugs in the young male, and some females.)
He will experience FEAR- this will have its own lovely endorphin experience for him.
He will surge with Adrenaline, (For anyone who has ever had the experience of being shot up with pure adrenaline, used in the case of severe allergic reactions, adrenaline at its purest or strongest is very similar to cocaine.)
He will also go through the drug surge in the brain from the power exchange itself.
This may be the first time that he has felt this way. This may be the first time his little brain is overloaded with this particular drug cocktail.
Some people are already wired to have an affinity for this cocktail, just as an alcoholic's brain was often wired for the alcohol buzz. On the flip side, some people may be completely impervious to the effects, and have no taste for it... just as with alcohol.
Some also have sexual feelings about what is happening, so it's also delivered with that sexual chemical release- so for many people they experienced the above surge, along with some of their first sexual experience.
This is a very potent drug - experienced at a very formative time.
And the brain felt the drugs, and the brain said, "this feels good. I want more of this."
They may continue to seek it out. The more they seek it out, the more their brain likes it,
Eventually they may come to feel they need this surge in their life.
Of course these are naturally occurring chemicals, similar to sex, similar to a "runner's high", not drugs. As long as we are not causing harm to anyone in our indulgence, we should see this as a gift given to us by our unique chemistry.
There is no real reason why BDSM cannot be as healthy a thing to indulge in as a run, or a fine piece of music. Anytime we find our brain releasing these feel good chemicals on its own, with natural impetus instead of drug use, it can be a positive experience.
A side note, though,
I think that its possible when children are exposed to that power exchange with fear, and the sexual element as well, and this happens on a regular basis, this can alter our brain chemistry for life, and people can be severely addicted.
SHAME is a big tipping point between addictive and healthy behaviors. These may be the people we see in the BDSM scene who are survivors of regular or ritualistic sexual abuse - brains and bodies trained and wired for the power exchange, the sexual element, the fear, and they now need it very much. The unhealthy part is similar to any other addiction- when they seek it out at all cost, their need for their particular drug outweighing their need for safety, sanity, self respect, and other highly important things.
Once you pile SHAME on there, (which increases with their indulging at the cost of health) you have the recipe for some very unhealthy behaviors, all focused around getting something they actually desperately need because of their upbringing.
It's not wrong to need BDSM. It's best to indulge with everything else in balance.