Tanning Addiction: The Burning Desire for Bronze Skin

If you do a general Google search on the word, “addiction,” the overwhelming majority of material you will find has to do with drugs and alcohol. Addictive behaviors that fall into the realm of the obsession over porn, computer use, gambling, and, yes, tanning only receive passing attention when discussed in the same article as alcohol and drug addiction. That’s because drug and alcohol addiction not only leads to physical, psychological, and relationship harm, but can also lead to legal problems. After all, when was the last time you heard about someone being arrested because of tanning addiction?

Tanning Addiction

Sure, that sounds absurd, but medical experts have found the same type of brain activity in frequent tanners as drug addicts. Consequently, the negative physical effects from excessive indoor tanning are similar to excessive use of drugs and alcohol. At the top of the list is cancer – skin cancer – which can eventually lead to death.

Here’s the Scoop

The part of the brain associated with reward experiences an increase in blood-flow when an addict feeds his or her addiction. Whether it’s with drugs, alcohol, gambling, tanning, or other addictive behavior, the pleasure center of the brain becomes aroused. Just as drugs and alcohol produce a feeling of euphoria in some people, UVA rays can produce the same type of euphoria for people who want perpetually bronze skin.

Tanning Addiction

According to a 2019 study conducted at State University of New York in Albany on tanning addiction, out of the 421 participants (2/3 of whom were female), 50 of them fit the bill for having an addiction to indoor tanning. Over 3⁄4 of those identified as tanning-addicts admitted feelings of guilt over the amount of time spent on tanning. The same number of tanning addicts said they wish they could curb their desire to be tan all the time.

Excessive Tanning Symptoms

Symptoms of a tanning addiction include, but are not limited to:
Anxiety due to not tanning as much as they want.
– Complaining of a light complexion even though he/she is tan.
– Exhibiting feelings of guilt or being annoyed when asked why he/she tans so often.
– Inability or unwillingness to make eye-contact with others.

Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

As you can see, these symptoms are similar to those affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

Treating Tanning Addiction

While tanning addiction shares some of the same symptoms as alcohol and drug addiction, there’s also a common denominator for treating people with a tanning addiction as with a drug or alcohol addiction.  Talk therapy in an individual or group setting is the most common form of treatment for managing tanning addiction. In some cases, intervention might be necessary to break the cycle of the addiction to ultra-violent light before the addict becomes subjected to skin cancer that can result in an ultra-violent death.

Tanning Addiction

If someone you love is spending more time at the tanning salon and you see their time spent tanning is becoming an obsession, don’t let your loved one get burnt by addiction. Say something. Do something so they don’t do irreparable harm to their body by increasing the risk of skin cancer. Do something before your loved one burns their relationships with family and friends because of their addiction to tanning. Don’t be afraid to get help from an intervention specialist. An intervention specialist is a great resource to shine a light on your loved one’s tanning addiction.

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