With summertime shenanigans on the horizon, there is no doubt that some Americans are champing at the bit to get outside in pursuit of the perfect tan. However, a new study from the Yale Cancer Center shows that this behavior may be a sign of an addictive personality, suggesting that those people with a got-to-be-bronze mentality may be more likely to suffer from drug addiction issues than their pale counterparts.
It may sound a bit far-fetched to compare the desire to be a golden god with the squirmy actions of the junkie grind, but researchers say they have found a connection between people who are obsessed with tanning and an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
In fact, the study, which was published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, found that people who exhibited a so-called tanning dependence were six times more likely to have substance abuse problems.
“Tanning can become addictive much like anything else, so the findings do not surprise me,” said psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser in an interview with Yahoo Beauty. “Feeling a compulsion or obsession to do something because it gives you a good feeling in the moment can lead to an addiction, whether we are talking about alcohol, eating and even tanning.”
Interestingly, the study suggests that people with a tanning addiction are more likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a vicious withdrawal symptom, if you will, that one might experience due to a lack of sunlight. For those people with an overzealous affinity for tanning their bodies in the summer, it is highly likely they “would have a negative emotional experience when they could not spend their desired time in the sun because of the winter months,” according to Kaiser.
“And if a person has an addiction or obsession with tanning, this could cause greater levels of depression,” she added.
It is important to point out that not everyone who enjoys spending summer days lounging next to a body of water is at risk of being bitten by a wild-eyed dope monkey. For decades, scientists have been trying to establish a common connection between addictive personalities and people with drug abuse issues, but that goal is still far from being achieved.
“What we’re finding is that the addictive personality, if you will, is multifaceted,” George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told Scientific American. “It doesn’t really exist as an entity of its own.”
There is not a single trait exclusively representative of addiction—it hits a multitude of people regardless of race, family upbringing and many other factors. Therefore, it is impossible to say without a shadow of a doubt that people obsessed with tanning are also more likely to get hooked on the various intoxicating substances they might imbibe this summer.
A report published last year by the U.S. Surgeon General found that 1 in 7 people will struggle with addiction, regardless of whether they have a tan or a bone white complexion.