Image Credit: TLCI wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m addicted to TLC’s series My Strange Addiction, but I am pretty fond of the show, which highlights people’s obscure habits. The series has featured some pretty odd behaviors (from eating glass to consuming toilet paper), and thanks to its success, the network just confirmed they will renew the series for a second season.
In the premiere episode, viewers met Lori Broady, a woman who had been addicted to sleeping with her blow dryer since she was eight years old. After a long battle, Broady finally kicked the dryer out of her bed and attributes part of that success to appearing on the show. She called up EW with addiction recovery expert Dr. Mike Dow (who also appears on TLC’s Freaky Eaters) to chat about the show. Read the interview below, and then watch an exclusive clip from the season finale, which airs Wednesday on TLC at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). The episode will feature Kimberly, who is addicted to laxatives; and Bianca, who craves pottery and ashes more than food or water.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What kind of reactions did you get from people after your episode aired?
LORI BROADY: I’ve read a lot of different reviews and different blogs about it. At first, when I started seeing the things that people were saying about me, it really made me feel bad. But then I realized that a lot of people are just ignorant. Maybe they don’t want to look within and realize they might have some things that they’re dealing with as well. We kind of set ourselves up for people to say things about us and pick on us or laugh at us. I second-guessed myself a little bit along the way, but I got through it. I became successful with beating my personal addiction. It turned out to be a really great experience, and I’m thankful for it.
So you’re no longer addicted to your blow dryer?
LB: I’m completely done with it. Since I’ve quit, I’m kind of on the outside looking in. It took a long time to get here, but I’m doing really well without it. That being said, I did not realize just how dangerous using the blow dryer really was. I guess that’s part of my denial process. I really, really in my heart felt like, what is the big deal? It’s just something I’ve always done. I knew it was strange. I knew it was weird. But I did not understand the severity of it.
MIKE DOW: That denial is subconscious denial sometimes. Sometimes our brains and our bodies aren’t ready to do that work and that’s when denial can really surface in our lives. Because on some level, we’re scared that we can’t do it. When that happens, it’s very interesting the things that we can start to believe and tell ourselves.
Lori, you mentioned that after your episode aired you learned that a lot of people struggle with a blow dryer addiction.
LB: I didn’t realize that there’s a whole community of blow dryer users out there. And they all surfaced after the episode aired. There are tons of them. Everywhere. The day that my episode aired [Dec. 29, 2010], there was a gentleman in Virginia whose home burnt down with him and his 15-year-old daughter inside from blow dryer misuse. It was all over national news. I think in my case, I just got lucky all of those years. I got lucky with the little burns and the little things that happened. I’m lucky it wasn’t more severe.
Dr. Mike, how are strange addictions, like those featured on the show, different from a drug or alcohol addiction?
MD: Some of the process is the same, but there are some things that are actually a little bit harder. There’s no built-in support system. They say in the addiction community you’re as sick as your secrets. Well, if you think you’re the only person in the world who does something, then you’re really going to want to keep it a secret. So if you’re addicted to eating chalk, there’s no Chalk Eater’s Anonymous, but there is certainly Alcoholic’s Anonymous. So that actually keeps these people alone and keeping the secrets for a longer period of time.