If you’re anything like me (you can watch MA15+ TV shows, have access to Binge and love shows that keep you on the edge of your seat) you have probably been hooked on season 2 of Euphoria.
Euphoria is an American teen drama television series following a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships. Centred around the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue (played by Zendaya), Euphoria follows her as she navigates drug addiction, rehab and the many ways that this impacts her family and friends.
Without giving away any spoilers, episode six features a scene between Rue’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Ali, and her sister Gia. The two-and-a-half-minute scene is the first time in the series so far (we’re six episodes into the second season) that anyone has spoken to Gia about how she is feeling. Ali tells her that it’s ok to be angry at Rue, referring to her addiction and inability (or even lack of interest) in staying clean despite the best efforts of those around her. Gia responds by saying that she doesn’t know how anger would help the situation and we are confronted with a conversation centring around the impact of addiction on the siblings and carers. It’s a beautiful scene, one that frames up the importance of having support and being given a space to admit that not everything is peachy, and it definitely doesn’t need to be.
Check out the scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD4Fc54uxwM
As much as we have progressed in terms of our conversations about mental health in the past few years, the stigma surrounding addiction, in particular to drugs and alcohol, still has the stench of the late 1990s. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation reports that dependence on illegal drugs (including the ones we see in Euphoria) has been ranked as the most stigmatised health condition globally, with alcohol dependence ranked as fourth.
In 2021, Monash University published a research report calling for Australia to rethink addiction, shifting from the concept of personal failure to mental illness.
Did you know that approximately one in four Australians will develop an alcohol, drug or gambling disorder during their lifetime, and about one in 20 will develop addiction, the most severe form of the disorder?
That’s a hell of a lot of people to go through something within our community that still carries a huge amount of shame and secrecy. Addiction has a range of biological, developmental and environmental risk factors including trauma, social isolation, exclusion and even genetics. There might be some common stereotypes, but addiction doesn’t discriminate and for everyone one person who is suffering from addiction, there are family and friends around them who are impacted too. And as a result, the carers in these families too often slip through the cracks, not receiving the support that we see the start of for Gia in the clip above.
At Little Dreamers, we acknowledge that every caring experience is different, and we need to deliver a service that reflects this. In response, we are working closely with the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to improve our quality of support for those Young Carers caring for a family member with an addiction.
In order to do this, we have completed an in-depth evaluation of our School Holiday Programs and Dreamers Hub peer support platform in particular, to understand how we can make these services more appropriate and impactful for Young Carers of people with an addiction.
While we collate the data and develop our final reports, we are excited to be launching a workshop series for Young Carers exploring addiction, different home environments and Young Carer experiences. We’re also upskilling our Family Support Workers in order to better support Young Carers in this space, ensuring that we are in turn setting our Family Support Workers up for success.
If you are caring for someone with an addiction, just like Ali tells Gia, I want to acknowledge that you’re allowed to be angry, and I want to take a moment to recognise the hard work you put into your family every single day. If you are under the age of 25, I encourage you to reach out to our team, come along to a workshop and start tapping into the various supports that are out there especially for you.
Check out and register for the upcoming workshops here.
A big thank you to the team at Alcohol and Drug Foundation for recognising the impact of addiction on Young Carers through the funding of this research, evaluation and capacity building program.