Workshop Proceedings of the 18th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

Workshop: Data for the Wellbeing of Most Vulnerable

DOI: 10.36190/2024.22

Published: 2024-06-01
Euphoria's Hidden Voices: Examining Emotional Resonance and Shared Substance Use Experience of Viewers on Reddit
Layla Bouzoubaa, Rezvaneh Rezapour

Media's representation of substance use disorder can have both positive and negative impacts by raising awareness and reducing stigma, while also perpetuating harmful stereotypes and creating barriers to treatment for those dealing with substance use disorder. This duality is reflected in the mixed reviews that the popular HBO show, Euphoria, has received for its depiction of addiction and drug use. This paper employs a mixed-method approach, using natural language processing and qualitative analysis, to examine how viewers of Euphoria discuss substance use on Reddit, a social media site where users can discuss stigmatized topics anonymously. Word similarity analysis compared the language between viewers active on drug subreddits (ED) and those who are not (EE), revealing a focus on the impact of drugs in the ED community. In addition, we extract posts with reference to personal experiences with drugs associated with the show and perform thematic and emotion analysis to identify the depth and magnitude of Euphoria's impact on people. This revealed five key themes: how addiction is portrayed, mental health and trauma experiences, character development and relationships, exploration of youth identity, and the show's artistic style. Our study highlights the importance of nuanced depictions of substance use disorder in media, illustrating their impact on individuals from vulnerable communities with relevant personal experiences.