Do reality shows about addiction provide addict help. Reality shows on television have become popular as entertainment, draw large numbers of viewers and achieve high ratings. Many people follow reality shows with the same enthusiasm that they have about “real” relationships in their lives.
There is no doubt that for many people, the cast of characters in their favorite tv shows have become an extension of reality. People following serial dramas await the next episode, fueled by media hype, with fear and trepidation about what will happen to their favorite characters and how they will survive. Some people talk about tv stars as if they were actual relatives or friends.
Reality shows such as Celebrity Rehab and Intervention deal with people and their addiction to drugs so as to portray what these people are going through as they attempt to detox and recover from drug use.
Some say that these types of reality show do more harm than good – that the shows merely exploit people who are vulnerable so that others can make a profit. It is suggested that extreme behaviors are encouraged because it makes for good entertainment and does nothing to give real addict help to the people on the show.
Those who organize reality shows dealing with people in recovery from addiction take a different view. They have a commitment they say to serve the public interest, to bring up issues about addiction and promote drug awareness They see no problem in using the medium of reality tv for this purpose.
The people who choose to go on the program are not forced, some receive payment for it. The whole concept is seen by the organizers of these programs as providing addict help, both to the people who actually appear on the show and their audience.
Advertising agencies often quote that any publicity is good publicity if handled with care, and other people take the view that the end justifies the means if you have a noble intention. There is no doubt that reality tv reaches out and touches a lot of people, in a very powerful way.
Seeing other people come “clean” about their addiction and the problems that they face certainly has a potential to make people sit up and think. It is highly unlikely that anyone watching a reality tv show about addiction will take up the habit or be encouraged to experiment with drug use as a result. It is quite possible that people unhappy about their own drug use might seek treatment for their addiction, encouraged by these shows.
The main criticism of these programs is not whether good results are obtained but whether they put the interests of good entertainment before the interests of the addicts. Do reality shows about drug addiction breed a climate of public tolerance and acceptance for drug abuse, or do they foster community values that reject drug use as an option, and support addiction recovery.
Whatever viewpoint you take about their morality, reality tv about the problems faced by addicts shines a light in a dark corner. Issues about addiction are often kept secret, pushed under the carpet, no one likes to admit that they or a family member have problems with addiction.
By bringing publicity and attention to addiction issues reality shows inform the public and give addict help.