"Star Trek" Worse Than Heroin?

Study confirms something most of us suspected: Trekkers are addicts

By Joal Ryan Jun 13, 1997 6:30 PMTags
Beam them up, Betty Ford Center.

According to a new study by a British researcher, die-hard Star Trek fans are like heroin junkies: Both are addicts. And when they're cut off from their respective drugs...watch out. Detox is hell.

Psychologist Sandy Wolfson spent four years studying Trekkers. (Check that, people--four years. That's longer than the original Star Trek series ran on network TV back in the 1960s. Who's calling who an addict?)

According to the resulting study, between 5 and 10 percent of all Trekkers meet the psychological definition of addiction.

"They show withdrawal symptoms such as frustration and agitation if they miss an episode and develop higher tolerance levels, so they need increasing doses," Wolfson told the London Times.

No word if this "need" for greater "doses" is the real reason behind recent Trek spin-off series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as the franchise's on-going big-screen outings.

Wolfson's study also includes such Reefer Madness-esque tales as: The woman who spent an entire vacation worrying about her VCR back home (Was it working? Was it taping? Was she missing Capt. Kirk and pals?); and, the fan who spent $10,000 a year, every year on Trek merchandise.

Presumably, so as to not cause panic in the streets, the British psychologist did have some nice things to say about Trekkers, too. Wolfson concedes that most fans have (gasp!) friends, and have even met spouses through their common love of the sci-fi series.

So, what do Star Trek fans have to say about the report? One Columbus, Ohio, woman says she "takes it with a grain of salt."

"It takes all kinds, and you're going to find the fringe element in the Star Trek fandom universe, as well as, for example, people following the Royal Family universe," says Sammi Soutar, 42.

People addicted to the misadventures of Chuck and Di? In Britain? Never.