D.A.R.E. Echoes PTC’s Alarm on “Euphoria”

Written by PTC | Published February 4, 2022

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reports that at least 1 in 8 teenagers abused an illicit substance in the last year.

Drug use among 8th graders went up 61% between 2016 and 2020. Overdose deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds has been trending upward over the last 20 years, and resulted in nearly 5,000 young lives lost forever in one year.

But these facts seem to matter little to AT&T, to HBO, or to the producers of Euphoria, a high-school-set drama that operates as a virtual how-to manual on using illegal drugs and then hiding the fact that you’re using.

Last week, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) echoed our concerns about the casual depiction of dangerous and illegal drugs on Euphoria.

"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…

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 most recent episodes have doubled-down on this dangerous messaging.

In one recent episode, the main character, Rue – a high schooler -- instructs viewers on how to cover-up drug use and then “gaslight” friends and family.

Rue, reading the words on the screen: "How to get away with being a drug addict. Step 1. Find a cover drug."

"Cause no matter how hard you try to hide it, if you're doing drugs, you're gonna get caught. It's inevitable, and when that does happen, you don't want to be on the defensive. Trust me. No one believes an addict when they're caught. So, first things first, you want to lay the groundwork."

"Now, what you want to do is make them second guess their intuition. Make them feel like any valid concern is just their anxiety getting the best of them. Step two: Gaslight."

How dangerous. How foolish. How incredibly reckless HBO is with the lives and health and safety of its young viewers.

At a time when teens are suffering from a mental health crisis, experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation – Euphoria, a program about teenagers, targeted to teenagers – is basically telling teens to self-medicate with illegal narcotics, and then instructing them on how to conceal their drug use from loved-ones.

It is hard to imagine corporate conduct more grossly irresponsible than what HBO, and its parent corporation AT&T, is doing via Euphoria.

In the four episodes that have aired this season alone, Euphoria has depicted high school-aged characters naked, having sex, drinking, and injecting and snorting hard narcotics. Episodes have also featured multiple on-screen depictions of male genitalia and female breasts, graphic violence, and a near-constant barrage of explicit language including more than 450 “f-words” in four episodes. (Content examples and additional data can be viewed here.)

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to AT&T/HBO today.

And just as important, please forward this email to your family and friends who share your concerns about Hollywood’s attempt to normalize the use of illegal narcotics by children.

HBO/AT&T must realize the detrimental impact this show is having on the children and teens who watch. It is time to hold HBO and its corporate parent, AT&T, accountable for the harm they are doing with this irresponsible program.

Take Action. Stay Informed.