When most people think of addiction, they think of drug and alcohol addiction.  Certainly these are by far the most common forms of addiction in the United States today, but they certainly aren’t the only kinds of addiction that there are.  People also get addicted to food, to sex, to gambling, to video games, to social media, to smoking, to browsing the internet, and to tanning and sunbathing as well, and the list goes on beyond that too.

Addiction is defined as having a reliance on an item, thing, or activity for the continuation of happy or pleasant living.  It is the need of a certain something in someone’s life for the fulfillment of happiness or general pleasantry.  It specifically pertains to something that one needs desperately in his or her life and that he or she will:

a. Suffer greatly if the person does not have it

b. Seek out and try to get no matter the consequences

c. Does not actually need it to survive, or does not need it in such high quantities

d. Does damage to other areas of his or her life just to get a hold of the fix

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (NSDUH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, (NIDA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (NIAAA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), the National Council on Addiction, (NCA), and other addiction groups, drug and alcohol abuse are only two of literally dozens of different qualified, official, and labeled addictions in the United States.  There are actually several more and one of them is being addicted to sunbathing and tanning.

Addiction to the Sun

There is actually some science behind these new claims that one can, “get addicted to sunbathing and tanning”.  Some studies were done on this to see if there was any link behind repeated sunbathing and addiction.

• A couple of years ago a science project was performed to get to the bottom of sun addiction. Scientists wanted to understand what actually does compel people to seek the sun out daily, despite its obvious cancer risks to them.

• They went about exposing mice to ultraviolet rays for six weeks straight, and found much higher levels of endorphins, (the same chemicals released during drug and alcohol use), after exposure compared with before the mice had any exposure.

• To even go a step further and double check the result, the researchers injected the mice at a later time with naloxone, a drug given to people who overdose on opioids to save their lives.

• The mice then experienced signs of withdrawal from the exposure to the UV rays, leading the scientists to conclude that the high from sunbathing is actually real, and thus the animals were addicted to it.  Conclusion?  Humans can get addicted to sunbathing too.

What to Do About It

The answer is obvious.  Don’t go out in the sun so much.  If only it were that easy.  Unfortunately, it is not.  The truth is, when someone is addicted toy something whether it is something very serious like heroin or some kind of drug or alcohol if it is something kind of odd and new like sunbathing, the key is to stop doing it, but it is never that easy at all, and in fact it can be quite impossible sometimes.

There is a way out of the trap for those who are addicted to sunbathing though.  The simplistic aspect of sunbathing and getting addicted to it is that people aren’t actually addicted to the sun itself, they are getting addicted to the endorphin release that they get from being in the sun.  The way to handle this is to find a much more natural form of an endorphin release.  There are lots of different natural, healthy, and quite beneficial ways to release endorphins in the body and get that same type of physical and mental release without having to expose the body to potential skin cancer.

Some ways to release endorphins in a healthy and positive way are to:

1. Eat chocolate.
2. Eat your very favorite food.
3. Exercise.
4. Make a point to laugh.
5. Have sex.
6. Make music.
7. Take a group fitness class.
8. Eat hot peppers.
9. Spritz lavender on your pillow.
10. Get acupuncture.

There are lots of healthy alternatives to get a good endorphin release, but remember, anything done in excess becomes unhealthy, so keep everything within moderation.  No need to get addicted to something even more random than sunbathing itself is!

Addiction to anything is never a good thing, but there is nothing wrong with a good endorphin release now and then.  It is actually healthy to release endorphins, and a lot of the activities listed above, like exercise and sex, are also very healthy for the human body in other ways as well.