Addicted to misnomers



For most students, the beginning of the school year marks a celebration of possibility. However, some students on campus must cope with the inevitable symptoms of withdrawal, including pale skin, feelings of coldness, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As the summer begins to fade away and lazy schedules are replaced by ones filled with classes, homework and after-school jobs, they must quit their habit cold turkey. These are the brave students coping quietly with their addiction to the sun, and they could be anyone: a friend, a roommate or even you. \nIt's true. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, recently concluded that, based on two standardized substance abuse surveys, 26 percent to 53 percent of beachgoers qualify as being addicted to ultraviolet light, meaning that if you went to the beach with three of your friends this summer, chances are at least one, and maybe even two of you are addicted to the sun.\nAccording to the study, sun addicts are likely to conscientiously ignore the risks of skin cancer and premature aging while chasing the dream of a beautiful, bronzed body (BBB). Yet unlike addicts of drugs or alcohol, these sunbathers have nowhere to turn when their addictions get the better of them. \nRichard Wagner, a researcher for the study, said "support groups modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous may be necessary to keep some people out of the sun and tanning salons."\nIf this doesn't already seem patently outrageous, imagine a 12-step meeting for sun addicts. "Hi, my name is ______, and I'm a sunaholic. It's been twelve years since I've seen the sun." \nTo save money, they could even have a joint meeting with the local vampire's coven. \nIn the past few years, the word "addiction" (according to Merriam-Webster, the "compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance ... characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal") seems to have gotten confused with "bad habit" or "unhealthy routine." \nIf you don't have a real addiction, you might instead be addicted to shopping, the computer, eating or adrenaline. If everything can be an addiction, then real addiction doesn't seem so bad. One might say "I overcame my addiction to jumping out of planes, how come you can't kick heroin?" \nFurthermore, with all the new psychological disorders cropping up, no one has to be at fault for anything. Everyone has bad habits, but the difference between me constantly chewing on my pen and Joe putting heroin into his veins everyday is that although both habits are psychologically calming, I won't get the shakes, nor could I die from stopping my pen-chewing habit; I just don't have the willpower to quit.\nAddiction is a serious issue, yet the medical community's overuse of the term sucks away the true meaning from the word. I'm not denying that people may use bad habits to cover up issues they'd rather not deal with; I just argue that perhaps "addiction" is not the best way to phrase it.

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