The Link Between Suntanning and Addiction

Tanning Addiction connection

A weekly roundup on the latest in addiction science, medicine and care

By William Wagner

 September 22, 2020

People who love to tan may have a higher propensity to using alcohol and marijuana, finds a fascinating new study. And the treatment machine is broken and needs a lot of work under the hood, according to an addiction professional who offers a bold solution. Read about his suggestion—and the shortcomings in integrating HIV and substance use care, and a deep-dive of venture capitalists into the mental health arena.

From the Journal of Investigative Dermatology:
Yes, You Can Be Addicted to the Sun 

Addiction, it seems, extends to tanning. A study undertaken by researchers at King’s College London states the following: “It has been suggested that tanning behavior has an addictive component, with many sunbed users meeting addiction diagnostic criteria, and reporting higher use of alcohol and marijuana compared to non-users, together with symptoms of anxiety.

Tanning behavior has an addictive component, with many sunbed users meeting addiction diagnostic criteria, and reporting higher use of alcohol and marijuana compared to non-users, together with symptoms of anxiety.”—King’s College London study

The younger they start using sunbeds, the more they show addiction features similar to those for alcohol and drug abuse.” The study posits that people can have a genetic predisposition to sun-seeking behavior. Even those who understand the cancer risks continue to chase that big orb in the sky, or at least the nearest tanning bed.

From Addiction Professional:
Reinventing Recovery

Imagine a country where almost every community is wrestling opioid issues. As Cortland Mathers-Suter, managing partner of Colorado Medication Assisted Recovery, writes in an opinion piece in Addiction Professional, we’re currently facing just such a scenario in the United States. And the numbers back him up, including this one: In 2016, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2.7 million people in the USA suffered from opioid use disorder (OUD), with only 17.5% of those individuals receiving treatment. To solve the problem, Mathers-Suter believes we have to get serious about medication-assisted treatment (MAT). “The more folks with opioid use disorder who can receive MAT,” he writes, “the more evidence will exist to support the use of these programs as an effective agent to fight the opioid epidemic.”

From the International Epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA):
Exposing the Gaps in Treating Substance Users with HIV

Data from the IeDEA consortium indicates that individuals with HIV are less likely to have positive outcomes if they are substance users. The consortium, which gathers and analyzes information related to HIV/AIDS, conducted two separate surveys of HIV treatment sites in dozens of countries to determine how to address this issue. Researchers concluded that more needs to be done, as “gaps persist in the integration of substance use services into HIV care, particularly in relation to screening and referral practices, with reduced availability for children/adolescents and those receiving care within resource-constrained settings.”

From JAMA Psychiatry:
The Private Sector to the Rescue?

Venture capitalists have spotted an opportunity—inadequate treatment in the area of mental health—and they’re seizing the moment. An article in JAMA Psychiatry states: “The private sector has taken notice of this economic mismatch (high demand with inadequate supply) and is aggressively pursuing mental health and wellness as an investment opportunity.” According to the article, venture capital companies poured $637 million in 2019 into companies related to mental health. That was a record amount of venture capital spent in the field, many times over. Despite the obvious red flags—a reckless pursuit of profits, for one—some analysts believe these investments have the potential to produce unprecedented innovation in mental health care.

Photo: Kelsey Knight