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Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Bullying

Drugs and alcohol plague America’s youth. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 50% of teenagers have used drugs at least once. The problem is often compounded by bullying, which 20% of 12-18-year-olds experience at school.

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Does Bullying Cause Drug or Alcohol Addiction?

Teenagers who abuse drugs and alcohol generally do so in group settings. If a teen hangs in a peer group where drinking and drug abuse are normal, he/she will often follow suit. 

However, certain life factors may spur addictive behavior. Some teens take euphoric drugs to cope with bullying. Teens who bully are sometimes under the influence of drugs that spur aggression. The reasons for teenage drug use often fall along social, cultural and economic lines. 

Why Do Bullied People Drink and Use Drugs?

Teenagers use drugs for recreational purposes at parties. They also use drugs to cope with the ill feelings that accompany adolescence, such as:

  • Insecurity – Young people who struggle with insecurity could easily give in to drugs and alcohol. Depressant drugs like heroin and fentanyl create euphoric states that make the user mellow. Likewise, alcohol is a depressant that makes people light-headed. Depressants make people care less about stress and peer pressure.
  • Trauma – Some youth resort to drugs to cope with trauma caused by sexual abuse. If a young girl is sexually molested, she might use drugs to drown away the pain and memories. Youth might also use drugs or alcohol to compensate for loss, such as the early death of a parent. 
  • Social anxiety – Once kids reach adolescence, they get preoccupied with peer groups and social acceptance. The kids who don’t fit in with any popular group might struggle with self-esteem issues and use drugs or alcohol to numb the anxiety. Kids who appear to fit might also struggle because they don’t feel popular enough.
  • Loneliness – Some youth are simply lonely and use drugs and alcohol to numb the emptiness. A boy who’s shy around girls and lacks the courage to talk to them might go through bouts of depression and abuse alcohol. A child with no siblings might have trouble relating to people in the same age group and feel cast aside in school.

In some cases, the bullying these kids face is minor. An insecure boy or girl might blow a perceived slight way out of proportion and use drugs to hide the pain. In other cases, true bullying does occur.

Why Do Bullies Drink and Use Drugs?

Teen drug addiction and bullying are often the results of bad parenting. Some kids are never taught proper boundaries or how to empathize with others. Once they start pushing kids around and screaming at people without consequences or pushback, they get emboldened.

  • Unrestrained aggression – The kids who bully others are typically irritable and entitled. These are kids who learn somewhere at an early age that the way to get ahead of others is to shout people down. When other kids comply or passively witness the bullying, it reinforces the entitlement/aggression mindset. 
  • Lack of empathy – Bullies often have no sense of other people’s feelings. They think that their current wants are the way of the world and that anyone who doesn’t comply is out of step. It’s an aggressive form of solipsism: the notion that your feelings and impressions are the only ones that exist.
  • No sense of boundaries – Bullies develop an entitlement mindset early on that far exceeds that of most people. Whereas ordinary kids feel they need permission in many areas, a bully believes that what’s his is his and what’s yours is his. Energy drugs like meth and disinhibitors like alcohol can fuel this brazenness.
  • Bad parenting – Kids who bully often have parents who bully. Some have militant fathers that preach a “go get ‘em, tiger” mindset that a boy might take to an extreme. Others come from abusive households with violent parents. Some of these kids are battered and take it out on their peers. 

Kids who bully and take drugs often use substances that fuel the aggression center. Many teens who get addicted to drugs and alcohol are simply taking after their parents. In some cases, the addicted parent scolds the teen for doing as the parent does, not as the parent says. The only takeaway for the addicted teen is that it’s okay to scold others who don’t comply.

Signs of Drug Use and Bullying

Kids who bully their peers typically don’t admit to any wrongdoing. If reported, they’ll laugh it off and shame the victim for being a “sissy tattletale.” Common signs of a (possibly drug-abusing) teenage bully include:

  • Academic carelessness – Kids who bully are typically withdrawn from their studies. They’re often preoccupied with partying with other “cool kids” and finding their next hit. 
  • Failing grades – Bullies often guess on their tests and get D’s and F’s in most of their high school classes. If they think ahead, they still don’t care because they don’t aspire to an Ivy League university; they plan to attend community college and post on social media.
  • Defiant behavior – Bullies are typically defiant of teachers and parents. They might get grounded constantly but they always sneak out to take drugs and engage in teen tribalism. “Mean girl” types often acquire fake IDs and date older, drug-connected men.
  • Entitlement mindset – Bullies often expect what they want, when they want it, with no concept of earning, reciprocation or gratitude. They’ll get agitated and combative if told “no”, “not now”, or simply to wait their turn.

These behaviors are often learned at home, despite any double standards or “tough love” that a troubled parent tries to impose. In some cases, it’s down to neurological factors, such as the kid being an ESFJ (a possible bully) versus an INTJ (not likely a bully but a likely target of bullies). 

Children and Bullying

Children are often bullied if they don’t learn at the same pace as their peers according to the academic curriculum. Kids also get bullied for having abnormal characteristics, such as being:

  • Slow – A child might get bullied by his classmates if he’s a slow learner and has trouble forming sentences in class. The other kids might giggle each time he’s called on to answer a question. This can stay with a young child and lead to awkward, withdrawn adolescence. 
  • Unathletic – If a child can’t keep up during gym class, the others might not see that child as part of the group. The kids who excel in PE could see the unathletic boy as dead weight on their team and think that they’re in the right to mock and tease him.
  • Clumsy – If a child is physically wayward and often loses balance and drops things, kids might view that child as a clown: someone who’s there to be teased. This often correlates to a lack of athletic ability.
  • Neurologically different – Children don’t like people who are different from themselves. Childhood clicks often fall on neurological lines with majority types on the MBTI scale (ESFJ, ESTP, ESTJ) forming “in groups” and ridiculing minority types (INTJ, INTP, INFJ).

Kids who bully others for these and other traits often learn at home that bullying is okay. Abusive parents often set these bad examples.

Teens and Bullying

As kids enter adolescence, new concerns and obsessions take hold. There’s now an “in” and an “out” group of young people at each school. A teen’s social rank could all depend on:

  • Image – Teens often form lines along image and style boundaries. Preppy kids (children of affluent parents) often wear the latest designer clothes. Jocks typically wear functional clothes. Nerds typically have no style sense. Artists and alternative kids often adopt underground or “extreme” looks (goth, punk, hippie, retro, etc.)
  • Financial class – Kids often mix within their financial class. Preppy kids, who are usually pressured by their parents to get straight A’s, often mix at the honor roll events. Kids into metal and rap music often come from working-class backgrounds. Alternative kids often have bohemian parents in the lower-middle-income bracket.
  • Social group – Once kids fall into a social group, they often stay within it. There are few “floaters” (kids who get along with everyone) at a given public school. Some schools have two or three distinct groups (“popular” and “unpopular”), others have many different clicks, some that are more domineering than others.
  • Reputation – Kids often get elevated or spurned based on their reputation, whether or not it’s based on the truth. Some teens start rumors to be malicious, often out of spite or jealousy. Most teens lack the emotional fortitude to deal with this type of bullying.

Teens get bullied because of how they look, dress and act. Kids are more likely to drink and do drugs if it’s common within their social group. Insecurity over things like image and reputation can cause a teen to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Boys and Bullying

Adolescence is a rigorous and news-wracking period of development for most males. Aggressive and extroverted boys usually attain social dominance at school and some become bullies. Passive and introverted boys often immerse themselves in interests (art, music, history, science) and get bullied because they’re not perceived as “alpha.”

Boys are often bullied for the following reasons:

  • Not into sports – Sporting is a bonding ritual for the average neurotypical male. Consequently, disinterest in sports is often seen as “unmasculine.” However, males with extremely masculine brains (analytical, data-driven) generally don’t like sports because of the danger and unpredictability of ball games.
  • Eccentric – Boys who cultivate unique or “geeky” hobbies and interests (jazz music, vintage horror films, ‘50s rock, Golden Age comic books) are often teased by trendy kids for not being “with the times.”
  • Shy – Shy boys are often teased for being slow-witted. Since they don’t speak up much, aggressive boys often view shy boys as soft, easy targets.
  • Not stereotypically masculine – Gender policing is typical among teenage boys, even those who support LGBT rights. Words like “sissy” and homophobic slurs are often thrown at boys who do anything deemed “unmasculine” such as wearing pink or liking pop music.

If a bullied boy is given access to drugs and told about the euphoric effects of fentanyl and heroin, he could easily give in to the temptation.

Girls and Bullying

Girls often gang up in groups of three and four and cut other girls down for not being classy enough or breaking “girl code.” Girls are most often bullied over:

  • Style – Girls are often tribal with fashion and judgemental of those who don’t follow the latest trends. Girls sometimes spread nasty rumors about other girls, all because of differences in style.
  • Body – Girls often “fat shame” other girls who aren’t overweight, just out of spite. This is toxic and dangerous because many girls of ordinary weight-height proportions don’t think they’re “thin enough.”
  • Alleged behavior – Girls will often spread rumors about the sexual habits of other girls to feel virtuous by comparison. This often gets aimed at girls who talk to guys that the mean girl also likes.

Insecurity drives a lot of girls to drink and take drugs. Many females are dangerously preoccupied with the perceptions of others and their self-image.

Get Help for Bullied Youth With Addiction Disorder

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

No one at any age should bully or put up with bullying. If your teen is engaged in bullying and drug abuse, it’s time to get your teen enrolled in behavioral therapy and drug treatment. If your teen has resorted to drug and alcohol use to cope with bullying, your teen needs esteem counseling and substance abuse treatment.

Throughout the US, drug and alcohol treatment centers offer programs with inpatient and outpatient rehab and counseling. Most of today’s centers also offer programs especially geared to teens and the unique challenges they face (insecurity, peer pressure, depression, image consciousness). 

If your teen needs help, contact the addiction treatment centers in your area and ask about their programs and financing options. Don’t let the problem escalate any further. Your child’s future depends on your actions.

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