‘Euphoria’ sparks conversations about addiction

Zendaya in a scene from Season 2 of ‘Euphoria,’ which was filmed in Los Angeles. Credit: Courtesy of Eddy Chen/HBO/TNS

HBO Max’s “Euphoria,” while known in part for its cinematography, soundtrack, and makeup, also covers much more serious subject matter.

The American drama follows high school teenager Rue Bennett (Zendaya) and her substance abuse issues, as well as her circle of acquaintances as they navigate their own lives, according to Warner Bros. website.

Ahmed Hosni, assistant director of the Student Wellness Center at Ohio State, said the way “Euphoria” portrays substance use is a good start for a larger conversation, but it’s also important to remember that the on-screen action is fictional.

“I think the way ‘Euphoria’ just illuminates the pervasiveness of substance use disorders, the interplay of substance abuse and mental health disorders and trauma and how these three things often go hand in hand. is an important story,” Hosni, who mentioned he himself was in long-term recovery, said.

Ali Alkhalifa, a fourth-year women, gender and sexuality studies student, said he didn’t think the show glorified drugs like many people and organizations – including the anti-drug organization Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE – believe so, but rather show proper representation.

“I think the show does an amazing job of showing the really ugly nature of this disease and kind of de-stigmatizing the conversations around drugs that programs like DARE have perpetuated,” Alkhalifa said. “You know, we’re having this conversation because of the show. I think the show is basically about all the ways to tell you not to use drugs without saying, “Don’t.” ”

Alkhalifa said the show is particularly appealing to college audiences because the themes are still relevant to the age group, despite having left high school. The show’s filming aesthetic and music also play a role in the show’s popularity, he said.

“We almost got out of that critical stance because it sounds and looks so pretty sometimes, but I think it’s intentionally a way of contrasting how ugly addiction can be,” Alkhalifa said. “We have this beautiful music, this beautiful lighting, but it’s kind of, like, showing us the facade that we’re putting up.”

Hosni said he thinks substance use is glamorized in part because of how much society advertises and promotes alcohol, which he says is the most commonly misused drug on the planet. the market.

“The idea of ​​vilifying people who use other substances while we celebrate alcohol consumption is counterintuitive,” Hosni said. “Both approaches are extremely dangerous and send mixed signals to children and young people around the world.”

Hosni said the media’s accurate portrayal of substance use is important because the public forms opinions about addiction in part through media portrayals. He said the media can also inspire people to seek out resources for those struggling with addiction.

The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State offers naloxone kits, or Narcan, a drug designed to reverse the effects of a narcotic overdose, in its hospital pharmacies. Those who collect a kit can also receive training to learn how to use it, according to the medical center’s website.

“Any student who’s watched ‘Euphoria’ and wants to wear Narcan kits so they can possibly save someone else’s life, if they come across someone unresponsive, can go to the pharmacy on the Student Health Center and pick up a kit for free,” Hosni said.

Hosni said the most common misconception about people with substance use disorders is that it only happens to imperfect people, but it doesn’t. He said perpetuating this idea is only harmful for those trying to recover and deal with the shame that often accompanies addiction.

“Normalizing the idea that it could happen to anyone and just because someone develops substance use disorder and struggles with substance use disorder doesn’t mean they deserve minus our love, compassion and care,” Hosni said. . “And that’s actually how we’re going to help them get better.”

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