Bullying is an enduring problem worldwide. In the United States, more than 160,000 children reportedly miss school because of bullying. Every day there is a piece of news related to this issue and more organizations are pushing for awareness programs to make people take these incidents as a serious matter. However, the reality is, only four in 100 adults will intervene in what is usually regarded as “child’s play”. There are also people who downplay bullying as something every kid has to go through.
What many parents and adults do not realize is that bullying has evolved into an irrepressible monster that could affect a child’s mental health and could lead to other damaging problems. Bullying whether on the part of the bully or the bullied becomes a trigger that could develop into long-term issues such as alcoholism or drug use.
The Faces Of Bullying
Most people assume that bullying only involves a David and Goliath scenario but in reality you don’t really need to be bigger or have enormous strength to bully someone else. Aside from physical bullying, there are many other forms of bullying that do not involve physical action but can still constitute as antagonistic behavior done to overpower another person.
This is the most commonly known type of bullying which happens with a bigger or more aggressive person showing power over someone seemingly weaker. This is usually shown in popular movies and TV shows which is why it is easier to spot in everyday life.
This type of bullying involves abuse through insults, name calling, racist or homophobic remarks, sexual innuendos, threats, and intimidation. The goal is usually to embarrass or intimidate another person. Verbal bullying is very common especially in younger children and while it may seem meaningless, it could actually leave lasting damage.
If you’ve seen the popular teen movie Mean Girls then you’d easily understand how social bullying could greatly affect a person. This is often done to harm someone’s social reputation. It may entail spreading rumors, carrying out pranks to humiliate a person, and ostracizing a person from a group. This type of bullying is not limited to school children as it is also common in adults.
Cyberbullying is not new but over the past few years, it has become more rampant as more people adopt technology and social media. This form of bullying affects all ages and can be very dangerous because you don’t even need to know the person to be affected by it. This could include online threats, insults, posting of private images or communication, posing to be somebody else to prank another person, and other forms of online abuse.
Substance Abuse In Both The Bullied And The Bullied
For people who have been victims of bullying, the experience can be life-altering, especially if it happens during their formative years. There have been numerous studies that have found how bullied people develop conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal behavior, and other mental health problems. Often, the physical or emotional injury that bullying causes becomes too unbearable. When this happens, victims of bullying seek out an escape which they often find in alcohol or drugs. What may start as an occasional practice to forget the pain or trauma could lead to a lifelong habit.
Many studies and experts also found a correlation between how many victims of bullying resort to substance abuse. A research involving more than 4,000 students found that children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol during the next five years. This is also applicable to adults, with a study showing that people who experience bullying in their place of work are more likely to be dependent on sedatives and antidepressants.
In this scenario, substance abuse is not exclusive to the people who were bullied. According to another study, students who bully their peers are more likely to experiment with alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. The review of more than 75,000 students showed that one deviant behavior such as bullying may be related to another. According to the lead author of the study, it is then very critical for adults to intervene in bullying incidents especially in young children before they turn to substance use.
If you or a loved one is struggling from substance abuse issues rooted from bullying experiences, it is very important to speak to a professional who could help you heal.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center to learn more about our holistic treatment programs.