The Connection Between Drug Abuse And Bullying

The Connection Between Drug Abuse And Bullying

Drug addiction happens for many reasons, and no two people will experience addiction in the same way. Some people develop addictions to prescription medications while 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 developing 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, such as developing a painkiller addiction after a serious injury, tend to have an easier time overcoming addiction than those who fall into substance abuse due to psychological distress. Many people 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 really addressing the root of the problem.

Bullying comes in many forms. Some children in school face bullying every day for various reasons, and many schools across the country have cracked down on bullying and have made major strides in reducing the number of bullying incidents among students. However, some students suffer silently, and bullying can affect individuals beyond the school-age years as well.

Bullying At School

Bullying is most common during the school-age years, from elementary school through high school. Most bullies find seemingly easy targets and engage in prolonged ridicule, aggression, and victimization of their targets 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 and cause severe psychological distress.

Many U.S. schools have adopted zero-tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and 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, but has even led to many bullying victims at astoundingly young ages to attempt and commit suicide.

Bullying In The Workplace

Many Americans encounter friction in their workplaces. Both coworkers and supervisors can potentially engage in bullying, and several federal-level protections exist to prevent abusive practices in U.S. workplaces. However, many Americans still deal with consistent abuse in the workplace for various reasons. 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 become 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.

Bullying in the workplace can not only lead to the victim developing a substance abuse issue but 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 later in his or her career.

Bullying At Home

Unfortunately, many Americans face harsh ridicule and abuse at home. When bullying occurs within a family, the victim may feel like he or she has 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, but if family members are the cause of a victim’s bullying struggles, where does he or she look for help?

Bullying at home could potentially become so intense that the victim runs away or takes the first opportunity to make a fresh start somewhere else. This can eventually lead to a substance abuse problem if he or she falls in with the wrong crowd because he or she feels like there is no other option.

Bullying Online

Cyberbullying, or abusing another person through digital messaging, is another major concern for many Americans, especially 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, but it can also provide a platform for stalking, harassment, and bullying. Many people have suffered severe psychological trauma from things said online, and prolonged cyberbullying could 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 for his or her problem will likely assume that help isn’t available, and drugs become a relatively easily accessible outlet for people in these kinds of 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 more dangerous for younger people, as an individual who develops a substance abuse disorder at a younger age is likely to continue this pattern into adulthood, potentially leading to a life of addiction. Additionally, people who suffer bullying are more likely to develop trust issues and have a harder time relying on others in the future. This can create a serious roadblock on the road to recovery as the individual struggling with substance abuse may deal with low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness of others’ help. They may simply distrust those offering help as well.

Bullying is a serious problem, and parents should stay vigilant for any and all signs of bullying. Victims of bullying should know they are not alone and help is available if they need it. If you notice a person struggling with any type of 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 bullying is fixable. The sooner they seek help for bullying issues, the more likely they are to avoid a future of substance abuse.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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