Photo courtesy of HBO / Warner Media

News | 03.02.2022

Euphoria: Another Teenage Show Or An In-Depth Look At The Dangers Of Addiction?

Director and creator Sam Levinson had a bigger idea in mind than creating your usual drama-packed "teenage" show.

You might look at the HBO series Euphoria and think it’s just another gossip-filled teenage show unfolding the chaotic life of weirdly mature high school students. While that might be the case for some, there’s a lot to take away from the main character Rue Bennett (Zendaya) and her struggles with opioid addiction

There’s a lot to learn from the entire cast. What’s interesting is how director Sam Levinson gave each character some kind of downfall that could be seen as a form of addiction. Rue’s is quite obvious, as the first two seasons see her in and out of rehab, secretly doing heavy drugs behind her significant others’ back and struggling with the horrible recovery from years of addiction. 

And then, if you look at other cast members like Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney), some would say she presents an addiction to validation and attention, which unfortunately sees her hooking up with her best friend’s boyfriend–err, ex-boyfriend. 

Not to mention storming the stage of her sister’s high school play and grabbing the attention once again, although the play was Lexi Howard’s (Maude Apatow) way of coping with living in Cassie’s shadow. 

Photo courtesy of HBO / Warner Media

Besides the drama, and there’s a whole lot, the most compelling and gut-wrenching scenes carefully dissect the long journey to sobriety from former addicts like Rue’s sponsor, Ali (Colman Domingo). In season 2, episode 5, the entire episode surrounds Ali and Rue’s grim Christmas eve conversation about whether or not she will choose to remain sober or continue slowly killing herself. 

According to CelebStoner, Euphoria director and creator Sam Levinson said in 2019 that he had spent most of his teen years in “hospitals, rehabs and halfway houses. I was a drug addict, and I’d take anything and everything until I couldn’t hear or breathe or feel.”

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services shows that in 2020, roughly 1.6 million minors from 12-17 had a substance use disorder in the United States, which makes up for 6.3% of the teenage population. 

Dr. Lynn Fiellin, professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and Child Study Center, spoke with Time about how Euphoria is shedding light on the millions of teenagers using drugs in the current day and age. 

She says it’s “a huge problem” and one that’s only getting worse. In terms of the HBO series and what it represents, Dr. Fiellin concluded that “Euphoria depicts exactly what is going on.”

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