Drug Abuse and Bullying: Everything You Need To Know

Addiction Resource > Drug Abuse and Bullying: Everything You Need To Know


What is bullying

Most of us have probably witnessed some sort of bullying or have experienced it first hand. Bullying comes from an inequality of power between two people – mostly among school children. The bully, who has more power, either physical, social or intellectual uses this inequality to hurt or embarrass a lesser individual. If this behavior persists or for the most part happens more than once, we call this bullying.

The effect of such acts on a person can be devastating. Sometimes they may even lead to social, physical and mental health problems. With any of these mentioned issues, it could potentially be a cause of drug abuse or worse.

What are the types of bullying?

There is not just one type of bullying; the real deal bullies will act as if on instinct to try and find the best method to pick on someone. The method they choose can vary from person to person. Though, there are three main types of bullying:

Physical Bullying:

Hitting, kicking, pinchingBreaking or taking thingsTripping and spitting
These physical bullying tactics are among the most common. The bully will hit, punch and kick their target into a submissive state to achieve the dominance they require.
Another common trick bullies will use, is taking another’s things. For example, a school child’s bag or lunch money.
Not as common as the others, though still prevalent tripping and then spitting on someone is pretty degrading to be on the receiving end. Thus, amplifies the bully’s ego.

Verbal Bullying:

Name-calling and teasingThreatening and taunting
These tactics bullies use are among the worst. Verbal bullying is almost worse than physical bullying as it is an easier and constant way for bullies to abuse someone. Constant name-calling and teasing can seriously affect one’s mental health.
This tactic bullies use is a way for them to affect the mind of a victim. Threatening to harm someone can leave a lasting effect on them causing anxiety and extreme stress.

Social Bullying:

HumiliatingExcludingCyberbullyingWork Bullying
This method  is employed to damage the victim’s reputation. It can include – sharing fake stories behind the person’s back, sharing humiliating information and photos, humiliating the victim publicly.
To do further harm the bully will try to intentionally exclude the victim from any social events or groups. This also has an additional effect – the victim’s friends might abandon him or her in order to avoid exclusion themselves.
This form of bullying is now quite common. Bullies can now reach more people than ever before. For most people their only escape from bullies was the safety of their own homes, However, with the rise of social media, such as facebook and twitter bullies can now post mean, hurtful or embarrassing comments or pictures. According to the CDC “9% to 35% of young people say they have been the victim of electronic aggression.
You may not have realized, but bullying at workplaces is an actual issue and is quite serious. Some workplace bullies will threaten, intimidate and humiliate another coworker for their own amusement or benefit. Another more serious work bullying tactic is for a bully to sabotage or interfere with another’s ability to get work done.
9% to 35% of young people say they have been the victim of electronic aggression.CDC

online bullying

Bullying comes in many forms, and from our list, you can get a better grasp on just what kinds there are. Anyone suffering from any of these types of bullying should seek proper help and not choose a more problematic method of coping like alcohol or drugs. The big issue is – how drug abuse and bullying could be connected?

cigarette and whiskey

Drug Abuse and Bullying – Is there a connection?

When it comes to bullies, the hidden problems they face that lead to why they bully could be a gateway to an abuse of drugs. Their choice of friends can also put them in an unfavourable environment – with aggressive kids around them they could have problems in school or problems with the law. On the other hand, the victim has to deal with the situation they have been put in by the bully. So, how are bullies and victims coping?

There is not as much research in this area as there should be, although according to a 152 question survey from public, private and Catholic high schools in Ohio, USA. 30% of the students were victims or bullies, and around 14% smoked cigarettes, 16% used marijuana, 32% used alcohol. Also, 13.3% not bullied still used marijuana.

This gives us a perspective on just how prevalent drug abuse and bullying are in schools. The statistics of use are higher for bullies than for victims, and are unsettling. The rates of drug abuse for victims of bullying are just a little bit higher than those of the non involved population – the connection here isn’t clear.

Bullying itself isn’t a huge factor itself when it comes to substance abuse rates, but when you take the mental health repercussions it can have on both parties into consideration, it becomes a serious problem – 50% of all people with mental health issues also have substance abuse problems.

Another study in Helsinki, Finland surveyed 6,000 adult workers from 2000-2002. The research gathered showed that 1 in 20 people felt bullied at work and that over half the surveyees admitted to witnessing another being bullied at work. The overall consensus was not conclusive, but it did suggest that people bullied at work were more likely to abuse prescription drugs.

The rates of drug abuse for victims of bullying are just a little bit higher than those of the non involved population – the connection here isn’t clear.

bullying children

Why do people bully?

Power and status are big factors in why a person becomes a bully, but there are other reasons as well – they may seek attention or have a mental health condition. Taking on a victim may be a way for them to deal with depression, anxiety, loneliness or low self-esteem, it might also be a way to get relief or self-satisfaction.

There are a few main reasons why people bully others:

  • They have themselves been bullied:

This in itself may seem very contradicting, but research has shown that people who have been bullied are more than twice as likely to become bullies themselves to use it as some sort of defense. The people who become bullies themselves usually think that they will be immune against being bullied. Sadly, it is just a double negative.

  • Traumatic or stressful experience::

A traumatic or stressful experience can leave one’s emotions in limbo. For many, negative outlooks can affect their behavior. A death of someone close in the family or their parents divorcing can have a behavioral effect on a person and thus lead to bullying as a way to cope.

  • A tough home life:

Parents who are aggressive and abusive themselves tend to rub off their habits to their children. In turn, potentially causing bullying. Being alienated at home from your own parents or siblings can have a big effect on one’s behavior. Feeling rejected by your own family is emotionally damaging.

  • Aggressive behaviours:

Our culture has a big role on how we act, some people are just more aggressive than others and look for a rise out of people. Guys and girls alike can be aggressive physically and verbally when trying to act big in groups of people picking on individuals with differences to seem bigger or better than others.

  • Difficult relationship:

One of the more common types of bullying is within a relationship. When it starts to seem like things are falling apart one or both parties can start to be aggressive. Thus, start to use bullying as a way to intimidate or keep the relationship going.

To sum up, there are plenty of reasons why people start bullying, and sometimes it is just an instinctual response to an emotional or behavioral experience that triggers them to find a way to deal with it. On the other hand, some people could have mental problems that make them enjoy hurting others. In the end, why are people being bullied – it is not all one sided.

Why are victims bullied?

What are some of the reasons bullies pick on certain people, why don’t they pick on everyone? We can say that bullies look for the weaker ones in a group. For example, a weaker or smaller person that is less physically capable than the bully would be an ideal target for them. What are some other reasons for victims to be bullied?

Here are some examples:

The person might be:

  • Overweight
  • Underweight
  • New to the school or area
  • Financially poor
  • Handicapped
  • From a different ethnicity
The person might have:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

bullying children

Who is most likely to be bullied?

Boys are more likely to be involved in bullying, and girls are more likely to be involved in cyberbullying.
According to this survey, people of mixed race are the most common targets (30.6%) compared to African-American (23.2%), White (20.6%), and Asian American (18.5%).
Hispanic students (17.9%) reported the lowest rates of involvement in bullying.
Asian American students were more likely to be racially or ethnically bullied (e.g., were bullied with mean names or comments about their race or color)
According to another survey84.6% of LGBT youth were verbally abused (compared to 50% that of heterosexual population) and  63% heard remarks about their sexuality from faculty or school staff.

Bullies will take advantage of people for a variety of reasons, but overall we must agree that having some abnormality will lead to being a more likely target for a bully. Not only can you be bullied by a kid from school, but also by teachers, faculty, co-workers, loved ones or even a friend can make someone look for means to deal with it – for some it might be substance abuse or worse. What can bullies and victims alike do?

What should you do if you are being bullied?

If you are being bullied your first step should be to find some trustworthy help, tell a teacher you trust, faculty staff or administration, and if you are a working adult you should inform human resources or a supervisor.
If someone is being cyberbullied, he or she should make sure to save everything – emails, texts, and voicemails. If someone is bullying you on social media, make sure you block and report them.

Where to find help:

    • Teacher
    • Faculty staff
    • Coach
    • Administration
    • A parent
    • Supervisor
    • Human resources
    • Keep texts
    • Emails
    • Voice mails
    • Screenshot everything
    • Block/Report them on Social Media


What can be done?

The governments of many states are stepping up to bullying with new laws and policies to protect children and other demographics. Each state is taking on bullying differently with their own unique laws and policies.

For one, California anti-bullying laws and policies are quite extent they cover a broad range of types of bullying and the types of victims. Disability, gender, nationality, and race are just a few groups covered under the new anti-bullying law. Furthermore, cyberbullying is also included, and any bullying of these groups could lead to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying charges within California.

Unfortunately, not all states are on par with California’s extent of how far the law goes. If we take Alaska for example, there are anti-bullying laws, though they do not cover the broad range as previously mentioned. Their laws do not cover cyberbullying, and there are no specific groups listed under Alaska’s anti-bullying laws or regulations.

Though, we have to agree that with the laws and policies being in place it is one more step towards ending bullying and potential fallout from its effects.

One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.Michael J. Fox

Other than the laws and policies of the government there are specific help groups dedicated to supporting and helping those who have been affected by bullying. People can use these sites if they feel they need help or are just looking for information about what they can do.

As with any other reason to abuse a substance, there are damaging effects. When dealing with drug abuse and bullying, it can not only affect you mentally, but it can also leave lasting effects on your health. We can try to mitigate the effect with proper counseling and therapy. In the end, stopping bullying at the root may be most effective.

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