Reality TV shows are no substitution for getting real help if you or someone you love suffers from an addition or behavior disorder. That does not mean there isn’t some benefit found in these shows although many people watch them out of curiosity. The popularity of shows like Intervention, that showcases addicts going through methadone withdrawal, or Hoarders which confronts people who surround themselves with junk, proves the public wants to know more about certain conditions. How do documentaries and reality television fit into the scope of the issues that plague society?
One of the most relevant benefits found with shows that deal with conditions such as compulsive disorder is awareness. People can go their whole lives and never understand the medical problems associated with hoarding or obsessive behavior. Reality TV takes these behavioral disorders and brings them to the forefront.
The son whose mother lives in squalor may never realize that hoarding is a compulsive disorder. Shows like The Biggest Loser bring obsessive eating and morbid obesity into the limelight. Conditions that prior to reality TV remained in the shadows are now on everyone’s mind because these shows exist.
You are Not Alone
When someone sits and watches another family cope with hoarding or alcoholism, they might just realize they are not alone. This is especially true for those who love someone with an addition or disorder. Seeing other people on TV dealing with a problem that you face daily may be therapeutic. It is easy to fall into the mindset that no one understands what you are going through. Reality TV proves there are other people who understand.
These shows offer a review of the steps one must go through before the situation improves. Every person is different, so following the same path as a television show is not a good idea. The shows will however give you a picture of what to expect when dealing with a problem.
If It Can Happen to Them
Celebrity reality shows may seem like they are more about seeing a train wreck than anything else. For many watchers that may be true. People dealing with a problem like methadone withdrawal might see one of their favorite actors or singers trying to cope with the exact same condition. It is a revelation, “If it can happen to them, I guess it can happen to me too.”
From beaches to following the lives of aging celebrities, sometimes it is hard to see the value in reality TV. In some cases, however; some shows do serve a purpose. Shows that highlight problems provide awareness and help to those dealing with their own issues.
Mercedes Potter is a writer who is educated in the effects of long and short term drug use. Reality TV shows have painted a picture of not-so-pretty lives that may help deter drug abuse. Follow her @CedesPotter to read other blog posts she’s authored.