Psychologist discusses Euphoria’s depiction of addiction
“So there’s no way it’s really accurate because, well, it’s a TV show.”
The last season of Euphoria officially ended last weekend, and if you watched, you’d know the show deals with some pretty big issues, like substance abuse and addiction.
In case you need a quick recap of what happened this season, Rue, played by Zendaya, is starting to do drugs again in secret, despite telling everyone she’s sober. His drug use is eventually exposed and we see the breakdown of his relationship with his family, friends, girlfriend, and Narcotics Anonymous sponsor.
Since there have been criticisms and discussions about the show’s portrayal of addiction and teen drug use, we asked an expert to chime in. Dr. Aimee Martinez, a licensed clinical psychologist who works with older teens and young adults, shared her thoughts below:
Now that season 2 is over, do you think Euphoria portrays addiction realistically? Which part do you care about the most?
Arguably one of the most shocking scenes this season is when Rue exposes Cassie and Nate in front of everyone. (“How long have you been fucking Nate Jacobs?”) What do you think of Rue’s behavior in this scene?
Another scene that came as a shock this season was when Rue got into an argument with her sponsor, Ali. What do you think of this and the show’s portrayal of Rue’s experience with Narcotics Anonymous in general?
The season reaches a turning point when Jules discovers that Rue has been using drugs all along, then tells Rue’s mother. Rue is then confronted by her family about her problem. What do you think of this scene?
Shortly after the confrontation, Rue’s mother attempts to drive her to a rehabilitation center. Before getting out of the car, she says, “Five percent. That’s my chance, 1 in 20,” referring to the odds of staying sober. Is it true ?
Later, Rue’s mother calls a rehabilitation center to try to get her daughter admitted. She says “If you don’t admit it, she will die.” How true do you think this is? Would Rue’s admission be the only treatment option? If not, what are the other treatment options?
As you know, this show is centered around high school kids. What is the prevalence of drug use in this age group?
Are there any other scenes that stand out to you from this season that the show did well?
To learn more about Dr. Martínez and her work, follow her on Instagram.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.