Can Tanning and UV Rays be Addictive?

To be honest, before “Tan Mom” I had never ever heard of tanorexia. I assumed that she was a sick woman in need of mental help. I wasn’t judging her, or maybe I was. It just didn’t make sense to me why someone would do that to themselves, but maybe she really has a problem.

Tanorexia is a physical or psychological addiction to tanning. According to a study done by dermatologists, really frequent tanners tend to lose control of their tanning schedules and become a lot like smokers and other substance abusers, wanting more and more. Research says that tanning releases an opioid that tanners can become addicted to and even have withdrawal symptoms from.

Negative side effects of tanorexia include all of the negative things that come along with prolonged exposure to UV rays including cancer. In some cases  of tanorexia, it may even be a form of body dysmorphic disorder (which I originally thought “Tan Mom” had) where the person sees themselves as always too pale no matter how dark their skin gets, and/or finds their pale skin to be disgusting, unattractive and unacceptable. It’s this way it is a lot like anorexia where the person sees themselves as overweight no matter how thin they get.

Currently tanorexia is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV), but an updated version of this manual (the DSM V) is scheduled to come out soon and it will be interesting to see if tanorexia will be an official diagnosis. Further more, The Archives of Dermatology appear to make a case for diagnosing the addiction to UV rays as a type of substance abuse disorder so along with alcoholics we may soon have tanaholics.

I’ve always heard that you can become addicted to anything and everything should be done in moderation. Tanorexia seems to prove that statement.

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