Link between bullying and substance abuse

Link between bullying and substance abuse

Bullying is a common practice in schools and colleges. It comprises three major elements – unsolicited aggression, power inequality whether perceived or observed and likelihood of repetition. It could be direct (when targeted youth is present) or indirect (through rumors). Bullying can be physical, verbal, sexual or relational (affecting relationships of the targeted youth).

Statistics reveal that at least one in four school students in the U.S. has been bullied and some cyberbullied. Most of the bullying takes place in middle school through verbal and social means.

Bullying affects not just the ones who are bullied but also those who witness an episode. The act is associated with harrowing negative mental health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, isolation, low self-esteem, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, and even suicide.

Factors leading to substance abuse

Victims of bullying may often turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the trauma and forget the memories of the experience. Listed below are two major factors that facilitate the use of substances in them:

Dip in self-esteem – Bullying affects a person’s self-worth and motivation level. The perpetrators are clever and aware of the victim’s vulnerabilities. They exploit this to their advantage and harass a victim in such a way that he or she starts to develop negative notions about the self after repeated incidences. At times, the signs of bullying are so subtle that even the parents ignore these and it continues to afflict a victim. Most parents have the tendency to advice their children to ignore it and let go. This may not solve the purpose and the child can stop sharing future instances. Over a period, he or she may be crippled with intense fear, frustration, depression, anxiety and even self-doubt. To mask these incapacitating emotions, they often turn to substances as a coping mechanism. They may even start using prescription medication, which are easily available at home.

Negative peer influences – A teen who is bullied feels isolated and distressed, and wishes to connect with others to foster friendships. Since they are in an emotional turmoil, they often end up making poor choices and befriend negative people. Such people often introduce the victims to the world of addiction to mask pain.

Individuals who bully others often come from dysfunctional families or disturbed backgrounds and end up taking out their frustration on a junior at school. The perpetrator might be returning to a disturbed home amidst challenging circumstances. They themselves might be addicted to a substance. Therefore, it is important to address the underlying cause of bullying and take preventive measures to stop the malpractice.

Road to recovery

Parents must be extremely vigilant to not miss the subtle signs of bullying in their children. Initially, a teen might deny having suffered and appear defensive; but with great care and love, it is possible to help them open up. The next step is to approach a mental health expert and seek a recovery plan that addresses the emotional and physical outcomes of bullying, as well as substance abuse problems.

If you know someone who is addicted to a prescription drug or an illicit drug, the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California can assist you in finding the best drug rehab in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline 855-738-2770 or chat online with one of our representatives to get complete information on some reputed drug addiction treatment centers in California.

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