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The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E., is calling out HBO’s hit show “Euphoria” for its depiction of drug use, sex and violence.
“Euphoria,” which premiered in 2019 and is in its second season, follows Rue (played by Zendaya), a high school student struggling with addiction amid relationships, friendships and her home life.
“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,” D.A.R.E. said in a statement.
Established in the 1980s during the Ronald Reagan-era “war on drugs,” D.A.R.E. advocates for a zero-tolerance policy on drugs.
D.A.R.E. said it would like to consult with representatives of the show to present its concerns.
“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 statement says.
Ahead of the second season, Zendaya, who is also an executive producer on the series, posted a statement on social media warning viewers that the show could be triggering to some and emphasizing that it is for mature audiences.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences. 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,” Zendaya wrote on Instagram.
She added that viewers should “only watch it if you feel comfortable.”
Zendaya posted a similar warning before the show’s debut in 2019.
“Just a reminder before tonight’s premiere, that Euphoria is for mature audiences. It’s a raw and honest portrait of addiction, anxiety and the difficulties of navigating life today,” she wrote. “There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch and can be triggering. Please only watch if you feel you can handle it.”
A disclaimer about mental health with a phone number for the National Alliance of Mental Health runs ahead of episodes dealing with mental health issues.
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.
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