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HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ doesn’t always glorify substance abuse

Trigger warning: This article mentions instances of alcohol and substance abuse.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Euphoria season 2.

HBO’s drama “Euphoria” has attracted much controversy due to the drug-related theme of the show.

During each episode, the show displays the use of drugs through one of the main characters, Rue, played by Emmy Award-winning actress Zendaya. The element of drug use can be disturbing and may be triggering for those struggling with substance abuse.

Despite the trigger warning at the beginning of each episode, the content of the show caught the attention of a representative at the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. According to NBC News, they want to collaborate with the show in order to draw back the attention of glorifying drugs.

“HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” the D.A.R.E. representative said in an interview with TMZ.

The glorification of drug use throughout the show can sway viewers away from the reality addicts struggle with in their day-to-day lives.

Addiction is very serious, and although the show does show Rue’s struggles with addiction, it may seem like it also displays how ‘euphoric’ and ‘fun’ taking drugs can be. But there are scenes that portray how dangerous going down that path can be.

In season two episode one, it’s New Year’s Eve and Rue is on the hunt to do drugs. She meets a guy named Elliot (played by Dominic Fike) who also partakes in drug use, but Rue takes too many drugs and almost overdoses.

Elliot becomes instantly concerned, but Rue’s logic is to counteract the drugs she was using by taking more drugs to “fix” the rate of her heart. This is only one example of how dark this show can get.

Drugs can heavily impact a person’s ability to make the right decisions. In season 2 episode 4, Jules (played by Hunter Schafer), Elliot, and Rue have just robbed a liquor store for some alcoholic beverages. At this point in the show Jules, Rue’s girlfriend, doesn’t know that Rue relapsed and is back to doing drugs.

While Rue is sitting in the back seat, she opens one of the drinks, and in fear of her safety, Elliot advises her to not drink the alcoholic beverage because she is already under the influence of heavy drugs. An argument ensues between Jules and Rue because Rue is not supposed to be drinking or partaking in anything of the sort. So Rue gets dropped off on the side of the road and proceeds to go home and take more drugs.

Zendaya warns her fans in an Instagram post about the potential triggers in season 2. Even the star of the show emphasizes the importance of warning viewers because she knows how disturbing some of the scenes can be for people that have been around substance abuse or struggle with it themselves.

As difficult as it may be to watch, Rue’s character emphasizes the severity of substance abuse within our society. According to Charactour, Rue’s character displays the struggles of being prescribed medication at a young age and then having to deal with pain and loss while struggling with addiction as a teenager.

In the episode that aired on Feb. 6, the audience sees Rue hit rock bottom like no other. As she begins to have symptoms of withdrawal, Rue enters a state of panic and hurts not only herself but her girlfriend, family, and friends in the process.

Throughout the episode, Rue runs around town causing destruction wherever she goes and will do just about anything to be high again. This episode unveils the reality of the lengths addicts will take when they are desperate for drugs.

Ultimately, “Euphoria” can be seen as a warning of the severity for those that are struggling like Rue and for those that know someone struggling. For those that have never faced substance abuse in their lives, this show displays how it not only affects the person doing the drugs but the people around them as well. The show may be dark and twisted, but it is also real and raw.

For anyone struggling with addiction, you can call SAMHSA National Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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