Bullying and substance abuse are often connected because emotional issues are at the root of most teen substance abuse. The widespread use of technology, such as cellphones and computers, has created a new type of bullying called “cyberbullying” which can be especially destructive to the self-esteem of the person being bullied.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying refers to a type of bullying that is facilitated through modern technology. This can include social media and texting just to name two examples. The problem is a common one. Cyberbullying statistics show that 43% of all kids have been cyber-bullied.
The lack of physical proximity of a victim and their bully does not reduce the harmful effects associated with this type of bullying. In fact, the ease of use that technology allows can make this kind of bullying more pronounced and more severe in its content. In general, cyberbullying can lead to substance abuse, social issues, and impairment to mental health. Both bullies and those being bullied can develop these issues.
Cyberbullying, first and foremost, combines aspects of social and verbal bullying behaviors filtered through modern technology such as computers and smartphones. As noted above, the lack of a physical encounter does not lessen the harm such bullying causes and, in fact, may increase it.
Social media, for example, allows for easy anonymity and a much greater viewing audience. Also, due to the always-on nature of smart devices ,bullying can be far more pervasive.
How Cyberbullying Leads to Substance Abuse
Teen drug abuse is often linked to bullying. Research shows that those who are cyberbullied show the same traits that victims of traditional bullying display, such as: emotional distress, inability to concentrate, difficulty relating to others, sleep interruptions, fear for their own safety, stomach aches, and a misunderstanding of socially acceptable behavior.
Substance abuse may include alcohol and drugs being used as an “escape” for the person being bullied. Social isolation, feelings of powerlessness, and depression may also be triggered by cyberbullying.
Cyberbullies are often also the victims of cyberbullying. This creates a negative cycle where a teenager plays the role of both victim and victimizer and may lead to substance abuse as well.
Anthony Louis Center
Part of successful treatment is coming to an understanding of what causes substance abuse. At the Anthony Louis Center, we have worked for more than 40 years helping teenagers and their families cope with and recover from substance abuse. We focus on not only the family in the importance of recovery, but also the wider community.
If you feel that your child may be the victim of cyberbullying or cyberbullying someone else, it’s important to confront the issue and seek help. Contact the Anthony Louis Center to learn more about how we can help your youth and family overcome this issue and any substance abuse that may accompany it.