“Euphoria” Sheds Light On Teenage Drug Abuse


Composite image by Anderson Graphics.

Heaven Golladay, Science Editor

Last week, hit HBO TV-Show Euphoria centered around character Rue Bennett, a 17 year-old struggling with drug addiction in the first of two special episodes  between seasons 1 and 2. Season 1 received a lot of praise from its younger audience due to its unfortunate relevance to their lives, which led many parents to begin questioning “What does my child deal with?”

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), as of 2017, every other teenager has misused drugs at least once in their life, and over 1 in 10 twelfth graders have used illegal drugs in the past year. The most unfortunate statistic is that only 1 of 10 of all adolescents receive proper treatment for their substance abuse.

Rue Bennett picks up her addiction following the fatal illness her father faced and uses his old painkillers to help her grief. The CDC noted that in the past year, many teenagers like Rue (Black, female, and not straight), are more likely to fall into drug abuse and addiction. 

15 year old K.D. [who will remain partly anonymous due to the nature of this story; -Ed.] began abusing drugs due to influences in their family dynamic.

When talking about the beginning of their addiction, K.D. stated, “As a kid my grandparents would smoke weed, not around me but […] they grew [it]. […] It kind of made me very comfortable with drugs and as I got older my mom introduced me to marijuana.”

Similarly, the NCDAS shared they found that, “Percentages of middle and high-schoolers who perceived certain drugs as “dangerous” or “harmful” were lower than they had been in recent years.” The stigma around some drugs is beginning to disappear, while drug use amongst teenagers is actually decreasing overall.

However, given how powerful many current street drugs are, often with unknown ingredients, anyone who takes them may be putting themselves at risk; Jefferson County has seen a record number of overdoses, including deaths, in the past year. Prescription opiate makers have also been sued recently by the Justice Department for making addictive products, resulting in a record settlement payment of $8 billion dollars, for their role in the ongoing crisis of drug abuse.

K.D. shares that they have developed a reliant relationship with marijuana due to their anxiety and difficult withdrawals. Due to this constant use, they have developed a high tolerance, and now require more marijuana to get the same high, which is an “expensive habit” in K.D.’s eyes.

Just as character Rue and teenager K.D. use drugs for their anxiety, so do about 17% of teenagers.

Unfortunately, marijuana is not the only drug K.D. has tried in order to help their anxiety, they shared, “It [weed] also has made it easier for me to be [okay] with doing other drugs and I was abusing […] Xanax for a while but I’m clean. Smoking marijuana has become so normalized that I struggled for a long time.”