Tanning addiction is serious, and Ryan Ruckledge, who auditioned for the X Factor in 2013, says he cannot stop. Despite chest pains and fear of death, Ruckledge says he will continue injecting himself with Melonotan, a synthetic hormone that increases the amount of melanin in the skin.
Recently, Ruckledge, 22, was rushed to the hospital via ambulance, due to side effects of the injections but vows to continue injecting himself. He admits that ending up in the hospital was traumatic and worries that he could die.
Ruckledge, who now works in telesales, said tanning helps him cope with issues that stem from bullying when he was a child.
I’m naturally a pale person and I got tormented at school. They’d call me Casper The Ghost and ask if was wearing talcum powder. It really got to me. I felt ugly when I was pale.
He began using tanning beds at the age of 15, but, as many fair-skinned people have learned, would not tan — only burn. Then a friend introduced him to Melanotan injections, and he’s been using them, along with tanning beds, since that time. He said he quickly became addicted.
Lisa, Ruckledge’s mother, is concerned about his excessive tanning, but this does not dissuade him either.
She said, ‘You’re injecting yourself, that’s what drug addicts do!’ She was worried but I ignored her.
Doctors have also warned Ruckledge of the damage he’s doing to his body. Apparently, psychological counseling is needed, because health issues have not prompted him to stop.
A recent study found that tanning is an addiction similar to drugs. Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause endorphins to be released in the body, much like heroin, an opiate made from the poppy plant.
Prescription painkillers, like Oxycontin, Vicodin and codeine are also highly addictive opiates.
There is also a rise in melanoma (skin cancer) in the 18 to 39 year age group. Tanning indoors increases the risk of melanoma by 74 percent.
Sales of Melanotan have soared, and reportedly, in 2011, there were 68 websites selling the illegal drug, but it is now sold on 177 websites.
Additional research determined that individuals, especially adolescents and young people, use little or no protective suncreen when visiting tanning salons or sunning outdoors.
Tanning addiction is now known as a new form of substance abuse.