The Connection Between Drug Abuse And Bullying

The Connection Between Drug Abuse And Bullying

Drug addiction happens for a multitude of reasons, and no two people will experience addiction in the same way.

Some people develop addictions to prescription medications. Others develop painkiller addictions after suffering injuries or undergoing surgery for legitimate medical issues. Some fall into the trap of experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age and develop bad habits later in life. For others, drug abuse manifests in response to trauma.

How Bullying Can Lead To Substance Abuse

People who fall into substance abuse unwittingly by developing, for example, an addiction to painkillers after a serious injury, tend to have an easier time overcoming addiction than those whose substance abuse stems from psychological distress.

Many who fall into this pattern start using drugs as a coping mechanism. They effectively self-medicate to treat an issue, creating a cycle of dependency without ever addressing the root of the problem.

Bullying comes in many forms.

Some children in school face bullying every day. Many schools across the country have cracked down on bullying and have made major strides in reducing the number of bullying incidents. However, some students suffer silently, and bullying can affect individuals beyond the school-age years.

1. Bullying At School


Bullying is most common from elementary school through high school.

Most bullies find seemingly easy targets and engage in prolonged ridicule, aggression, and victimization of these individuals in order to make themselves look and feel better.

While the heart of bullying is often cowardice and feelings of low self-worth, the reality is that bullying can make a school-aged child feel unwelcome at his or her school. This can cause severe psychological distress.

Many U.S. schools have adopted zero-tolerance policies regarding bullying.

Some states have gone as far as enacting legislation that holds parents accountable for any bullying their children commit at school.

Unfortunately, bullying in school has not only led to many students dreading their time at school and developing unhealthy coping habits. This has even led to many bullying victims at astoundingly young ages to attempt and commit suicide.

2. Bullying In The Workplace

Many Americans encounter friction in their workplaces.

Both coworkers and supervisors can engage in bullying. Several federal-level protections exist to prevent abusive practices in U.S. workplaces. However, many Americans still deal with ongoing abuse in the workplace.

Fortunately, employee protections from the U.S. Department of Labor and other agencies offer legal remedies to employees who suffer abuse in the workplace. But these measures do little in terms of addressing the psychological damage workplace bullies might inflict.

Many people work stressful jobs which themselves can pose major risks of substance abuse. But an employee who suffers prolonged bullying in the workplace has a higher chance of engaging in substance abuse to cope with that mistreatment.

Bullying in the workplace can not only lead to the victim developing a substance abuse issue, but it can also entail professional repercussions.

An otherwise stellar employee facing bullying at work could have trouble maintaining productivity, and low enthusiasm for showing up to work will invariably lead to professional difficulties in one’s career.

3. Bullying At Home

Unfortunately, many Americans face harsh ridicule and abuse at home.

When bullying occurs within a family, the victim may feel isolated, with nowhere to go and no one to ask for help.

Family is usually the first place to look for support and help after suffering bullying. If family members are the cause of a victim’s bullying struggles, where does he or she look for help?

Bullying at home can become so intense that the victim runs away or takes the first opportunity to make a fresh start elsewhere.

This can eventually lead to a substance abuse problem if he or she falls in with the wrong crowd, believing there is no other option.

4. Bullying Online


Cyberbullying, i.e., abusing another person through digital messaging, is a major concern for many Americans, especially for parents of kids and teens with online access.

Social media can be a fantastic outlet for sharing news stories and interesting information with friends, family, and acquaintances. However, it can also provide a platform for stalking, harassment, and bullying.

Many people have suffered severe psychological trauma from things said online. Prolonged cyberbullying can easily propel a victim toward substance abuse.

Developing Healthier Coping Strategies

Victims of bullying are more likely to engage in substance abuse than their peers*.

Unfortunately, a bullying victim who cannot find help will likely assume that support isn’t available. At this point, drugs become a relatively attractive outlet for people in these difficult situations.

Students who suffer verbal abuse in high school are three times more likely to engage in alcohol abuse than non-bullied peers. Bullies themselves are also statistically more likely to engage in substance abuse.

Substance abuse is dangerous for younger people.

An individual who develops a substance abuse disorder at a young age is likely to continue this pattern into adulthood, potentially leading to a life of addiction.

Moreover, people who suffer bullying are more likely to develop trust issues and have a hard time relying on others in the future.

This can create a serious roadblock to recovery as the individual struggling with substance abuse may deal with low self-esteem and feel unworthy of others’ help. They may simply distrust those offering help as well.

Eradicate Bullying

Bullying is a serious problem, and parents should remain vigilant for any sign of it. Victims of bullying should know they are not alone and that help is available if needed.

If you notice a person struggling with bullying, do not be afraid to speak up and offer help.

It is essential for bullying victims to realize their situations are not permanent and that bullying is fixable. The sooner they seek help for bullying issues, the more likely they are to avoid a future of substance abuse.

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Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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