Drama Detox: Signs That Your Drama Addiction has Gone Too Far

Heisui's ThoughtsOther

We say it all the time–“I’m a drama addict!”.  We wear the label “drama addict” like a badge of honor, like battle scars–proof of our devotion and love for dramas.  Guess what, when I did a google search for “Asian drama addiction,” a lot of drama blogs popped up because they all had the word “addict” in their titles!  The drama community often treats the drama addiction like a good thing.  Fans, bloggers, and even drama-streaming sites encourage binge-watching and marathoning.  The drama culture focuses on drama consumption and constantly moves forward to the next great thing.   But the reality is that there are bad consequences for those who take their drama addiction too far.  I’m talking about negative impacts on people’s health, mind, relationships, and studies/work.  And chances are, no one is going to tell you if you’ve reached or are getting to this point.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources around that focus on helping people get out of their drama addiction.  Hence, my Drama Detox series.  The point of this Drama Detox is to help drama addicts take feasible steps towards developing healthier drama-watching habits.  This will only work if you are 100% honest with yourself, even if it may be uncomfortable for you to do so.  With that in mind, let’s get started!

Assess the impact of your drama addiction.

Firstly, start out by evaluating how your drama hobby (including all drama-related activities such as forums, social media, etc.) influences your life.  Below are some questions that you can ask yourself.  I encourage you to think of the answers as you read along, or even write out your answers on a piece of paper / Word Doc.  And for each “yes or no” question, you can rate yourself on a scale of 1-5:

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neutral
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly Agree

Does your drama addiction…

Take a toll on your health?

Possible health impacts:

  • Sleep loss–IMO this is a #1 health concern for drama addicts who marathon dramas.  Watching dramas late into the night or even all night obviously results in sleep deprivation.  On top of that, research shows that blue light exposure from electronic screens makes it harder for people to fall asleep.
  • Straining your eyes with too much screen-time–Most all drama activities involve a screen–your TV, computer, tablet, smartphone…all devices can give you access to dramas!  The problem is that this results in an excessive amount of screen-time, which is hard on your eyes.
  • Inactive, sedentary activity–This goes hand in hand with how drama-watching involves a screen.  Likely most fans are sitting in front of their screen, not working out or doing some other activity.

Ask yourself:

  1. How often do I marathon dramas per week?  Per month?
  2. How often have I not gotten enough sleep because of dramas?
  3. How many hours of screen-time do I have per day?
  4. Am I getting enough exercise?
  5. Do my eyes hurt after spending a long time watching dramas?

Help you procrastinate?

This is pretty self-explanatory.  Dramas can help you procrastinate on your studies (Essay?  What essay? *turns on a  drama*), work, housework, etc.  This can be a huge pain especially if you’re already a big procrastinator.  Adding dramas to the mix just makes it harder not to procrastinate!

Ask yourself:

  1. Are there any tasks that I haven’t completed this week because of dramas?
  2. How often do I procrastinate through drama activities?
  3. Think of an example of when you procrastinated through dramas.  What was the result of your procrastination?  How did it make you feel?  Was it worth it?

Decrease your productivity?

Not only do dramas help fans procrastinate, but they also gobble up precious time that could’ve been used for other activities or commitments.  Drama-watching takes a lot of time–about 45min-1hr per episode per week.  For kdramas that air twice a week, that’s double the time.  And if you’re watching multiple dramas per week, the amount of time spent on dramas can add up quickly.

Ask yourself:

  1. How many dramas am I currently watching?  How many hours do I watch these dramas per day?  Per week?
  2. How long do I do other drama-related activities such as surfing social media, reading drama blogs, contributing to forums etc. per week?
  3. What commitments/responsibilities do you currently have?  How much time do you need to devote to them?
  4. Is your hobby making it difficult for you to find time to fulfill your commitments?

Distract & prevent you from confronting other issues in your life?

Dramas are a form of escapism because they are a great way to destress and forget about your troubles.  I notice that I often turn to watching lots of dramas when I’m stressed out.  While it’s totally fine to relax and take a break, constantly escaping may help you avoid resolving other important issues in your life.

Ask yourself:

  1. What am I currently worried about?  What problems do I currently have?
  2. Am I actively facing my worries and problems?  If yes, how?  If no, why not?
  3. Do my drama activities increase when I’m stressed out?  Think of an example when this has happened before.
  4. Does escapism help you feel better in the long-term?

Make you more negative in the long-term?

Possible negative influences through dramas:

  • Bashing & fan wars on social media–Oftentimes dramas, actors, and idols are subjected to harsh criticism on social media & on blogs.  It’s easy to get caught up in the vortex of negativity on social media.
  • Feeling like you can’t live up to the ideals that dramas represent–The reality is that we don’t all have perfect skin or an ideal figure, the money for brand-name clothes, or the desire to run around in 5-inch heels 24/7.  Dramas & celebrities represent ideals of beauty, lifestyles, romance, etc. that are unrealistic yet incredibly appealing.  An ideal is something that’s meant to be chased after, and many fans do just that.
  • Feeling pressured to blog frequently, watch the most popular dramas, or provide fast subtitles–There’s a certain crowd mentality to the drama community.  People flock to the most popular dramas, and if you’re not watching them, you may feel out of the loop.  Fans demand super fast subs from fansubbing teams.  And some readers demand quick recaps/reviews from drama bloggers.  Whether you’re a subber, blogger, or reader, there’s pressure all around.
  • Being emotionally invested in sad, intense dramas–There are some dramas that are so sad and hard to watch that they can depress the audience.  It’s easy to feel down after watching a sad drama that you’re emotionally invested in.  For example, I felt down after watching the tw-dramas The Way We Were and A Good Wife.  In fact after watching A Good Wife a couple years ago, I still don’t feel ready to watch a drama about divorce or cheating anytime soon!  That’s how intense it was!

Ask yourself:

  1. Is your drama addiction pressuring you in any kind of way?
  2. Does negativity in dramas & the drama community drag down your mood?
  3. Is your current selection of dramas making you happier or sadder?
  4. Are dramas influencing your ideals & standards?  e.g. beauty, lifestyle, romance, family life, etc.

Strain your relationships?

Possible impacts on relationships:

  • Not being as active in your social life–Usually drama-watching is done alone (unless if you have a significant other, family members or friends who like dramas too).  This can take up time that you otherwise would’ve spent hanging out with a friend, etc.
  • Causing rifts between you and a significant other
  • People you know make you feel bad for liking dramas / Feeling like you can’t tell anyone about your drama obsession–Some fans feel like they have to be closet-fans because they feel their friends & family will judge them for their hobby.  Other fans have already been criticized and perhaps even made fun of for liking “soap operas”.

Putting it all together

I hope that these questions helped you get a better idea of how (if it is) your drama addiction is negatively impacting your life.  I suggest that you list your ratings for all 6 big questions to see which issues you need to work on the most: (you can keep this private, of course)

  1. Health
  2. Procrastination
  3. Productivity
  4. Escapism
  5. Negativity
  6. Relationships

Stay tuned for the next Drama Detox post. 😉

Source: Research on blue light exposure


I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I don’t read forums or youtube comments so I don’t usually get angry. But I’ve seen other fans or bloggers who rant on their blogs about the negativity they’ve read about their favorite dramas and actors. I used to watch dramas with my family and discuss but now I watch it alone online. Sleep loss and procrastination is my main problem in watching dramas. Sometimes I stay up late to blog and I feel I could have done something else rather than drama blogging. I agree with you about not living up to the dramas. Yeah real life can be different from what we want. Some dramas are too unrealistics for me to relate too but some dramas are just too sad. Drama Blogging takes up a lot of my time. I rarely read forums or blogs so I can’t comment on that.

    • Well it’s good that you know that you need to cut back on dramas. That’s a start! I’m planning on writing up a post on tips for decreasing drama-time. But I don’t have THAT many great tips since I’m also a procrastinator..oops..

  • Nice post! It’s something i believe most, if not all, drama lovers (i prefer this term to ‘addict’ as i still cringe every time it’s used loosely and proudly by someone. Being addicted to something is hardly a good thing, even if it’s only dramas) could use to assess if and how far our commitments to dramas have affected our real life in the bad way.

    I too find myself guilty of some of the things you pointed out here, particularly regarding procrastination and sedentary lifestyle, even though i’m not active in drama-related forums/social media. While for me watching dramas is that time-consuming, reading recaps, blog posts, related comments, and blogging about them do take up a lot of my free time. The last point does make wonder whether it’s worth it or a complete waste of time… Nevertheless, i still think dramas make for an effective stress reliever (besides music) and a great way to kill time XD

    Look forward to step #2! 😉

    • I agree. Even those who aren’t necessarily addicted may find it helpful to evaluate their drama-watching habits. Although I don’t view myself as a total drama addict (erm maybe I’m in denial tho) I still have some issues that I need to improve on..such as procrastination. I think procrastination is a huge problem for drama fans. X_X

      • Yeah, procrastination is a tough one to beat. I often tell myself that i’ll take a one-hour break to watch just an episode of that drama (an excuse to procrastinate probably) and it hardly ends there XD Oh well… i think i’m far from being a drama addict too, or maybe we’re all in denial ><

  • Like any other addiction the first step to recovery is recognising there is a problem – so your post is extremely helpful for that! Yeah, I think the health related issues for watching dramas (even if you’re not an addict) is quite alarming. Maybe I should start exercising while watching dramas, at least it makes exercise more enjoyable. 😉

    • I gotta start doing exercises while watching too! I think lifting hand weights, doing pull ups or even just stretching is totally doable. It’s easier to do exercises if you’re watching dramas on TV & not on the computer. 😉

      • Hula hoop, resistance band (hand/arm exercises) or stationary bike if you’ve got one. Sometimes I do that (I watch on my laptop), but not as much as I could.

        I do think you don’t exercise as intensely while watching a screen, but at least it’s something…

      • Yeah I tend to watch dramas on the computer while in bed which doesn’t help. Altho I’ve attempted sit-ups before LOL. But it’ll only work if you don’t need to read the subs. With subs I just find I have to concentrate extra hard!! Maybe lifting weights is a better option.

  • I used to have drama addiction when I was addicted to Hong Kong dramas. That was a long time ago though. I heard that TVB dramas have gone down in quality so it’s easy to ignore them. Not to mention that my TV addiction has waned down since I was a freshman in college. High cable bills helped with that. =) My drama addiction did come back when I was bingewatching Bu Bu Jing Xin and about 8-10 Zhen Huan episodes each day. Now I have nothing to watch except one anime.

  • Maybe that’s why I started watching only historical dramas – no ideals to live up to! Hahaha.

    This post resonated with me, I used to be soo proud that I was such an expert of dramas compared to my friends! LOL
    Gotten a bit better since.
    I think just going outside more and being more busy in general (school/work) helps!

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