Unlike D.A.R.E, Zendaya Recognizes That Teen Drug Addiction Is Already Here

HBO’s controversial series, Euphoria, is drawing the ire from D.A.R.E. over the show’s depiction of everything from drug use to teen sex. Now Zendaya has chimed in with her thoughts that take a different stance on how their storylines should be interpreted — and it might be the more realistic understanding of what teens are experiencing in 2022.

D.A.R.E. is frustrated that the show’s writers continue 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,” per a statement to TMZ. The group calls out everyone associated with Euphoria for labeling it “‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children, who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.” But Zendaya has chosen to portray her character, Rue, from a more empathetic perspective.

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Reiterating to Entertainment Weekly that the show “is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing,” she is hoping that Euphoria helps “people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain.” The truth is that drug addiction existed long before the HBO series ever did and it will be around long after the show ends. Zendaya added, “Maybe feel like they’re not the only one going through or dealing with what they’re dealing with.”

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Even if Rue made a bad decision to take more drugs to combat her overdose, this is a reality that many families face. The 25-year-old actress made it clear that the intervention is the “light at the end of the tunnel” that her character needs. And that’s the journey the viewer should be on, too — creating more empathy “over the experience of addiction.” She explained, “My biggest hope is that people are able to connect to it and those who need to heal and grow with Rue hopefully, by the end of this season, feel that hope and feel that change in her.”

D.A.R.E. needs to realize that one TV show isn’t going to create an entire generation of addicts. It’s a more complex societal situation than that, but if a storyline can generate more understanding around addiction and the roller coaster of emotions that an entire family goes through — it might help save one more life from a tragic outcome.

Before you go, click here to see celebrities who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction.

Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck

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