D.A.R.E., otherwise known as the Drug Abuse Resistance program, first rose to prominence in the 1980s during the “war on drugs.” They are now condemning one of HBO’s most popular shows, “Euphoria,” for glorifying teen drug use, violence and sex, according to TMZ.
“Euphoria” follows Rue, played by Zendaya, a Black high school student, navigating her sexuality, high school life and relationships while also struggling with drug addiction.
Rue’s Black NA sponsor, Ali, played by Colman Domingo, is a former drug addict who is trying (unsuccessfully so far) to keep Rue clean and prevent her from harming herself and those around her.
In a statement, D.A.R.E said they would like to meet with people from HBO and people who work on “Euphoria.”
“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 a representative for D.A.R.E. The premiere episode of Season 2, for instance, features a character overdosing.
“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the D.A.R.E. rep continued. “We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly.”
While many characters on the show use drugs, the two characters that most prominently struggle with drug addiction are Rue and Ali.
Here is data from the American Addiction Centers on substance abuse among African Americans:
6.9% of African Americans have a substance use disorder compared to a rate of 7.4% among the total population.
3.4% of African Americans have an illicit drug use disorder compared to a rate of 3% among the total population.
Past month illicit drug use among African Americans (13.7%) is more than Caucasians (12%) and Hispanics (9.7%).
Even to that point, I’m not offended that the two characters struggling with drug addiction are Black because not only is it a reality of what Black people experience in this country based on the data, every character, including the non-black ones, is struggling with some kind of addiction or realization about themselves, even if it isn’t drugs. Nobody on this show is flawless. Not one character is put on this moral high ground above other characters.
D.A.R.E’s point that the show “glorifies” drug use is understood, but the show is the reality of the American teen experience for some kids, even the Black ones. Yes, the characters on the show are having anonymous sex, using drugs and permit to violence, but there are also consequences to every one of those actions.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences. 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,” Zendaya wrote on Instagram.
Zendaya added, “ Please only watch it if you feel comfortable. Take care of yourself and know that either way you are still loved and I can feel your support.”