What Euphoria taught me about addiction and relationships

Graphic shows two young people embracing. There's a thought bubble above each of their heads; one shows a broken heart and the other shows a bottle representing addiction. The text above reads: "Addiction is not only a disease which destroys relationships with others, it's also a self-destructive one"

T/W Includes references to substance abuse and addiction.

Hi, I’m Louise. I’m a 25 year old foreign languages tutor and a GenNOW Ambassador for The Mix. I’m passionate about empowering young people to share their stories in order to break stigmas and support each other.

Addiction in Euphoria

Before watching NOW’s Euphoria, I didn’t have much knowledge about how addiction truly affects a person’s life and relationships. I had been taught about addiction at school, and teachers showed videos about what drug abuse can do physically to a person… But there was little mention of what it can do emotionally and how it can impact relationships.

I tend to learn a lot about the world from TV shows, but to be honest, I didn’t expect Euphoria to teach me anything. I knew some parts would be tough to watch, as I saw the trigger warnings at the beginning. But I put it on thinking it would mostly entertain me, however, it did SO much more than that! 

How addiction impacts relationships with friends and family

Throughout the show, it is clear that Rue has a very complicated relationship with her family. For instance, viewers can see that when her addiction gets worse, the relationship with her mum also worsens. This also has a knock on effect on Rue’s little sister, who looks terrified every time Rue and her mum fight, or when Rue comes back home high. These scenes have shown me how addiction can damage family relationships. The whole family is affected and the relationship completely changes, as it causes more anxiety and stress within the family. 

Rue’s addiction also affects the relationship with her best friend and love interest, Jules. Jules speaks to Rue about how she doesn’t want to be around her when she’s high, which motivates Rue to get clean. However, Jules feels that Rue’s sobriety is dependent on her, which causes her to distance herself from Rue, as the responsibility and pressure gets too much.

I like that Euphoria focuses not only on how Rue’s addiction made Jules feel, but also on Rue’s sobriety. It was really enlightening, as I’d not seen this in any shows before. This dynamic taught me that when addicts get clean, it’s not necessarily the end of their fight with the consequences of their addiction, so the disease is even more complex than I thought.  

At first, watching those scenes made me think “why can’t Rue just stop for good? Can’t she see that her addiction is hurting people around her?”. But as I continued to watch the show, it became clear that it’s not as easy as that. Addicts can’t just stop, as it is so deeply ingrained in themselves. And even when they get clean, they still have to fight their addiction and its consequences for a long time. 

How addiction impacts your relationship with yourself 

One thing I didn’t know before about addiction is how all encompassing it can be for the addict. This became clear to me whilst watching an episode showing Rue’s dream life in New York City. In this scene, Jules goes off to uni and Rue stays at home doing drugs. Even in her dream life, she isn’t clean. That really made me realise how the disease can take over a person’s deepest desires and thoughts; it even poisons their dreams.

In this episode, Rue often mentions how low her self-esteem is and repeatedly describes herself as “a piece of shit”. This episode is particularly hard to watch because of this. She has no hope for herself, which causes her to keep using. Addiction is not only a disease which destroys relationships, but also a self-destructive one. I think Euphoria has depicted this in a way that I’ve never seen on screen before, and it has really made me understand it better. 

Final thoughts on Euphoria and addiction

Some scenes in Euphoria can be difficult to process and understand, as the themes can be dark. This show comes with a warning for a reason, so in order to watch it it’s important to be in the right frame of mind. Personally, it’s made me understand addiction in a deeper way. Before, I had a very one sided view of addiction without really knowing it.

I didn’t understand why addicts couldn’t see how much their addiction destroys their lives and affects others. But in Euphoria, you can see how Rue wants to change on the surface, but deep down she doesn’t have any hope, so she finds it hard to stop. After watching the show, I can see how addiction can take over. I see it more as a disease that’s hidden, and less of a state of being. 

If you need support with addiction

Head to our drink and drugs information page.

Head to the Amy Winehouse Foundation for expert support.

Read our article about living with an alcoholic parent.

Read our article about overdosing.

Next Steps

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  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
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Updated on 02-Feb-2022

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