Here Come the Sun Addicts (Where Have You Gone, George Hamilton? Edition)

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H&R "lurker" Jessica sends along this hilarious Reuters story (via MSNBC.com) about the newest addiction under the sun: suntanning.

Anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of people catching rays at the beach may actually be addicted to tanning, according to new study findings.

After interviewing 145 beachgoers, U.S. researchers found that a significant portion met a series of addiction criteria traditionally used to diagnose alcoholism and other substance use disorders.

These findings suggest that regular sun-tanners may have a new type of substance disorder involving ultraviolet light, write the authors, led by Dr. Richard F. Wagner, Jr., of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Whole thing here.

I want to disagree with Drs. Wagner et al. From the news account at least, what their findings suggest that, to paraphrase Joe Jackson re: cancer, everything is addictive.

Indeed, as someone who tries to squeeze small moments of pleasure out of a world which is mostly shadows, I choose to read studies like the one mentioned above as performance art, esoteric Guy Grand-esque hoaxes designed to brighten our days. Try it, all you existential depressives out there, it really helps.

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  1. Hm. I find roasting my skin under the sun’s rays to be unpleasant enough that the notion of tanning being an addiction sounds completely believable to me.

  2. Someone should do an intervention on Zonker.

  3. I can’t seem to get addicted to something that makes my skin crispy either, Rhywun.

    Or, for that matter, anything else that my body doesn’t become physically dependent on.

  4. The study comes as no surprise to me. Who doesn’t feel better on a sunny day?

  5. True, I don’t mind the occasional ray. But my motto is, “Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.” I will already have enough trouble beating the wrinkles I’ll probably get from the number of years I smoked…I don’t need any help from the sun.

  6. I love Guy Grand. “I fancy a bit of a hot-doggie!”

  7. It is interesting how the concept of addiction has evolved from applying only to drugs that created a biochemical dependency to the current view where any pleasurable behavior is considered “addictive.” Thirty years ago, even alcohol wasn’t considered addictive. Now it is as well in addition to such behaviors as gambling, sex and tanning.

    My grandfather once told me that anything you enjoy a lot could get you into trouble. Another relative of the same generation refused to play poker because he enjoyed it to much. It seems that those of came of age before WWII seem to view pleasuring seeking as an inherently dangerous activity. (Perhaps, giving the relatively narrow safety margins of the time, it was.)

    I wonder if our modern expansive definition of addiction is not leading us to a neo-puritianism were every pleasure is suspect? Since addiction, almost by definition, means that an individual can no longer control the behavior, aren’t we creating an environment where almost everybody can be restricted and controlled for their own good?

  8. I had a girlfriend who was addicted to infra-red.

  9. I simply don’t understand sun-worshippers. Whenever I’m under a beating sun, I’m almost panicking. A voice is telling me “get out out this”. I actually feel a buzzing pain akin to that of bad acid. Not cool.

  10. I think it’s funny that doctors are now saying that our fears of solar rays have gone too far, and that we’re actually raising our cancer risk by not getting enough sun, due to a lack of Vitamin D.

    Sun, guns, beer, pot, fireworks, motorcycles, rock music, video games, cigarettes, sex. All are addictive and all should be outlawed.

    Stay in your homes, pay your taxes, and pray. Have a fun fucking life.

  11. Mmmmm….sun, guns, beer, pot, fireworks, motorcycles, rock music, video games, cigarettes, sex….

  12. …and donuts…

  13. Which pucker-butt wrote the criteria?

  14. I intend to become addicted to posting on H&R 🙂

    Shannon Love

    Addiction is a very fluid concept. The official definition today is meeting at least 3 of 7 criteria, 2 of which are tolerance and witdrawal symptoms. I don’t know all of them but i think at least one involves getting into legal trouble for your habit (which may of course have nothing to do with how strong your attachment to that habit is). People who talk about being addicted to junk food are, I think, using the term to mean “something you really don’t want to stop doing”. In the past other definitions were used.

    Technically addiction doesn’t mean “that an individual can no longer control the behavior”. For any drug or habit you can name there have been some people who were addicts by the standard definition and then quit or greatly reduced that behavior on their own. If addiction means you literally can’t stop youself, then no historical definition has ever got it right because there were always counter-examples.

    For a more detailed look at the subject I recommend Jacob Sullum’s “For Your Own Good, The Anti-smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health”.

  15. Meh, as long as I get enough tanning before burning man to ensure that I don’t fry to a crisp out on the playa. Seriously.

  16. Get some sun. It’s good for you. But not too much and not on your face. Live healthy, stay beautiful.

  17. It’s the vitamin D that causes the addiction. That shit should be made illegal.

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