Pop Culture

HBO Series Euphoria Follows Woman Suffering from Drug Addiction in a World that’s Leaving her behind

Euphoria, HBO’s newest drama, revolves around Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old woman struggling with drug addiction, depression, and anxiety who turns to drugs to cope with the feeling that she just exists in a world moving faster than she can keep up. 

Musician and actress Zendaya plays Rue, and before the premier of Euphoria, Zendaya put a disclaimer on her social media saying that this was for mature audiences and that some scenes can be hard to watch and potentially triggering. HBO also placed a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode to warn the audience of the drug addiction, sex scenes, and violence.

Euphoria Spoilers Ahead…

Breaking Down Rue Bennett’s Character

The eight-episode story starts with Rue expressing that she remembered a time when she was truly happy and content, and beyond her control, she was crushed repeatedly by the “cruel cervix of [her] mother Leslie.” 

After vividly being pushed out of the womb, Rue continues with the origin of her drug addiction. She was born three days after 9/11, and thought it should have been the happiest day of her parents’ lives, they watched the news as they “gave way to grief and numbness,” a motif that spread into Rue’s life right from birth. 

How Did Rue Get Addicted To Drugs?

Rue grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs of America with loving parents, a nice home, access to clean water, clean clothes, and plenty of food – yet, she struggled with the drag of anxiety and depression her entire life. She says she had a good life – her addiction is how her brain was wired.

Rue’s drug addiction started when her parents, concerned with her mental state, brought her to see a therapist, where she was prescribed anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and possibly bipolar disorder. 

What Drugs Does Rue Do?

Rue was prescribed several medications, and she felt that they numbed her emotions. She started using drugs to fill the void in her heart and was soon addicted to oxycodone, cocaine, fentanyl, and eventually heroin. 

Rue’s mother was responsible for compiling her morning cocktail of prescription medicines and showed the smallest hint of mixing up the ratios she was allotted. Most opioid addictions and overdose deaths start with prescription pain medicine. 

Rue explained that she has no recollection of her medically induced childhood between the ages of 8-12, other than the world moving “too fast” and her brain “too slow” to keep up.

Rue’s Drug Addiction Leads to Further Decline

The scenes cut to moments of anxiety for Rue, like self-image, her father not in the picture (later to learn he passed), hiding away during a school shooting drill, and the pressures of sex and porn in early adolescence. 

Rue’s anxiety attacks would flare when she focused too hard on her breathing, prompting her to desire stronger medication like Xanax, which she would steal from her mother’s cabinet and other street drugs like cocaine. 

After mixing a variety of cocaine, excessive alcohol, and pain medication, she claimed she found her moment of Euphoria – where her chest gets so heavy, and she falls into a state of total silence, tip toeing on the edge of death, the moment right before her heart takes one more beat to keep her alive.

The summer before her junior year of high school, she went through the motions of rehab with the intent that she would use it again. As the show progresses, you see how her mother has changed over time to become more grief-stricken and stressed about her daughter’s addiction, which inevitably tears her family apart. Though she is cognizant of her actions, she can’t help herself saying, “If I can be a different person, I would.”

What Can We Learn From Euphoria?

The show brings to light the real effects of drug addiction and how it can hinder an individual’s potential, even if they have support from their loved ones. It also emphasizes how individuals with a mental health disorder are more prone to substance abuse. 

Although the show is set in a high school setting, many of these themes transcend age – as adults struggle with addiction, too. We need to create a more open dialogue about drug addiction and mental health to provide better support for those suffering in our lives. 

By recognizing the signs of substance abuse early on, parents and friends can help intervene before it’s too late. In times like these, where many people feel isolated and alone, it’s important to be there for each other and check in on those around us. We must show compassion and understanding instead of judgment or criticism, as this could drive someone further into their addiction. 

Euphoria is a profoundly enlightening exploration of the perils of substance abuse and its impact on both individuals and families. It serves as a poignant reminder of the imperative to engage in ongoing conversations about mental health and addiction, ensuring that those in distress never feel isolated.

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