D.A.R.E. slams HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ with allegations of drug glamorization, UM students weigh in

It’s apparent that the students starring in HBO’s hit drama ‘Euphoria’ ignored the warnings of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) orientation that many students in the United States undergo during middle and high school. With regular drug use as a common plotline in the series, including a drug-addicted protagonist, the show is graphic in nature.

‘Euphoria’ originally debuted in June 2019, starring prominents actresses such as former Disney starlet Zendaya with Vogue model and transgender activist Hunter Schafer. The cast additionally includes ‘White Lotus’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ star Sydney Sweeney, body positive fashion model Barbie Ferreira, former child actress and “The King of Staten Island” actress Maude Apatow, “The Kissing Booth” trilogy frontrunner Jacob Elordi, as well as the popular designer, model and creative Alexa Demie.

Photo credit: Julia Monteiro Martins

Hailed for its coordinated makeup looks, cinematography, fashion and set design, the series explores the dark side of high schoolers in America, directed and written by Sam Levinson. These praised characteristics, alongside meme-able moments such as Sophia Rose Wilson’s “Vape Girl” BB and the debut (and stellar) acting performance of adult film actress Chloe Cherry, encourages the show to go viral on social media.

D.A.R.E., an organization fighting against teenage drug use, released a statement concerning ‘Euphoria’s’ second season, reading as follows.

“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.”

In response to several accusations, executive producer Zendaya continues to release statements on her Instagram and Twitter accounts prior to graphic episodes of the second season.

​​“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” Zendaya said on Instagram before the season’s launch. “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.”

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Fans of ‘Euphoria’ at University of Miami, including junior health management and policy major Gianna Trimarco, shared their thoughts on the show as a whole. Trimarco discussed why she’s a fan of ‘Euphoria,’ citing the show’s creative details as impressive.

“I have always appreciated the art of cinematography and the particular lens a director looks through to convey a message to the audience,” Trimarco said. “Although season two of ‘Euphoria’ is narrated and portrayed differently than season one, the exquisite detail behind the cinematographic choice is superior.”

Weighing in on whether the show glamorizes drug abuse, Trimarco’s opinion differs from that of D.A.R.E.

“After watching ‘Euphoria’ thus far, I do not feel encouraged to try and abuse drugs, but rather educate myself on the effects drugs have on the mind, body, and soul,” Trimarco said. “‘Euphoria’ has moved me in a way, because I would never want someone close to me to go through substance abuse and withdrawal. So rather than the show encouraging, I personally took the opportunity to educate myself and try to become an outlet for others who are at a crossroads.”

Ariel Fromm, a senior majoring in theater arts, discussed how the show is important for understanding the mindset of a drug addict.

“I believe that when we see the point of view from Rue it does humanize the drug abuse a bit, and I think that is the point. For people who have this happening in their family, they get a little inside view of what it’s like to be addicted to drugs. While people say it’s a choice, it’s something that takes over your body.”

A personal topic for her, Fromm mentioned how her own familial relationship with drug addiction impacted her opinion.

“I’ve dealt with addiction in my family, and I have zero problems with the use of drugs in Euphoria,” Fromm said. “I don’t think it glamorizes it. I think it enlightens us a little more. It allows us to have some empathy for her character.”

Fromm stated that her opinion aligns with Trimarco’s, disagreeing with D.A.R.E. ‘s statement on the show’s drug glamorization.

“I think it’s the opposite,” Fromm said. “I think it shows the dangers of drug use. We call it euphoria and we get this euphoric high, but you also get these terrible lows that we see in the show. They don’t lighten the effects of it. They go full frontal with addiction, abuse and then recovery.”

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A differing opinion came from Kamryn Charles, a sophomore majoring in music engineering. Initially, she stated that the second season of ‘Euphoria’ and its growth showing characters seeking professional help is important.

“I’m actually pleasantly surprised with the characters seeking help for their addictions and making efforts to be better people, compared to the beginning of the series,” Charles said.

When discussing drug glamorization, Charles explained that for young viewers the show can make drug use seem exciting.

“I do believe that it is made for an audience that can tell the difference, but if someone under the age of 16 were to watch the show I feel as if it would be negatively impacting them,” Charles said. “But, anyone who has a decent education on substance abuse should be responsible and make their own decisions regardless of influence.”