DARE deems HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ misguiding

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Zhoee’ Williams 

A hit show on HBO is drawing ire from adults and drug abuse prevention programs for what they say is glorifying teens struggling with drug addiction, sex and violence.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as DARE, released a statement to news outlet TMZ, criticizing “Euphoria” for potentially being harmful for younger viewers. 

“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, 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,” said DARE in the statement. 

The DARE program, founded in the 1980s by Los Angeles police officers, is a program offered in schools around the country that purports to help prevent the use of drugs and pushes toward zero-tolerance drug policies. 

“Euphoria” captures the life of high schooler Rue Bennett, played by the actor Zendaya, as she struggles through drug addiction while trying to please her friends and family. It also focuses on prevalent problems students tend to face including rape, depression, grief and feelings of body dysmorphia. 

But young adults who watch the show said that’s not what they’re taking from it.

“I think it does cover what isn’t really talked about in today’s society, but it also sugar coats it,” said Teandra Jackson, a sophomore at the University of Alabama. Jackson said she doesn’t think the show is comforting, but believes it reveals and accurately captures the life of a high school student. 

Jordan Evans, a junior at UA, said she has watched the show and can see how other students find it relatable.

“I personally feel like ‘Euphoria’ captures some aspects of certain high school experiences, but it amplifies these experiences, creating an unrealistic depiction,” said Evans. She said she never experienced the things shown in the show at her high school, but understands how they could happen.

“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that ‘Euphoria is for mature audiences,” said Zendaya via Instagram. “This season, maybe even more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable. Take care of yourself and know that either way you are still loved, and I can still feel your support.” 

Days after DARE’s statement, Zendaya responded in an interview and said the show isn’t meant to be a positive take on drug addiction, and those who may be affected by watching are encouraged to avoid the show.


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HBO has a disclaimer before every episode that talks about mental health and provides a phone number for viewers.  

“Euphoria” is streaming now on HBO Max, new Season 2 episodes are released every Sunday at 8 p.m.