You've heard of drug addiction, nicotine (cigarette) and alcohol addiction, but have you heard of 'sun addiction'?
Yes, that's right. Sun addiction. More precisely termed ultraviolet light (UVL) addiction.
In this month's issue of the Archives of Dermatology, a group of researchers published the results of their study about the possibility of a substance-related disorder involving UVL tanning.
To investigate, the researchers interviewed sunbathers, asking questions designed to measure addiction.
For instance, as part of the first set of addiction criteria, beachgoers reported if they were annoyed when people asked them to stop tanning, if they could not make themselves cut down on sunbathing, felt guilty about their habit, and wanted to tan as soon as they woke up.
As part of a second set of addiction criteria, the researchers asked people to admit if they had missed a commitment because of a burn, canceled a social or work activity because they decided to tan, and if they prefer sunbathing to all other activities. Beachgoers also had to estimate how much time they typically spend tanning.
The researchers found that 26 percent of people were addicted to tanning according to the first set of criteria, and 53 percent were addicted according to the second set of criteria.
[ Reuters Health, Aug 25 2005 ]
The sample size used was 145 subjects; much too small to really get a definite conclusion. But since the researchers utilized two trusted criteria to evaluate for substance-related disorders, this study is an eye-opener, and may be used as a starting point for more studies on the same subject.
I have some interesting questions myself:
Do 'sun-addicts' suffer from withdrawal symptoms during winter or rainy seasons?
If so, can this explain some of the depressive symptoms that happen during winter?
What sort of behavioral treatment can we offer these people ?
May be we can also look at the prevalence of skin cancer among these 'sun-addicts'.