Bullying can be a problem for anyone at any age, and it impacts many areas of life. The effects of bullying are wide-ranging and individual in nature, and they can contribute to substance use problems. Opiate addiction may stem from childhood or adult bullying as may other mental and physical health concerns. While these effects are serious, they can be counteracted through integrated treatment and compassionate care.
Bullying Victims and Opiate Addiction
Bullying is not harmless, and kids who are being bullied do not “toughen up” or move past the experience without support and guidance. StopBullying.gov explains, “Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.” Bullying affects mental and physical health, and it can affect health long after the bullying has ended by contributing to substance use problems.
Bullies and Opiate Addiction
When bullying occurs, everyone is a victim. Bullies often struggle with their own emotional or psychological challenges, and the connection between bullying and addiction goes both ways. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids shares, “Students who bully their classmates are more likely to use cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, compared with their peers who aren’t bullies.” Early drug and alcohol use is often associated with later addiction problems and the use of more and stronger substances such as opiates.
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Bullying and Adult Victims
Bullying doesn’t end once school ends. In fact some bullying doesn’t even begin until college or later. Hazing, a well-known aspect of joining some clubs, teams and social groups, is a common form of college bullying. Bullying also often appears in the workplace, as NoBullying explains, “Some examples of bullying may include spreading rumors, persistent criticism, repeated insults, verbal threats, humiliation, removal of responsibility, taking credit for others work, assigning projects with impossible deadlines, sexual comments and/or physical assaults.” These actions can immediately or gradually wear down a person’s confidence, self-worth and happiness. Adult bullying has the same serious consequences as childhood bullying and may come with an even greater risk for developing addiction as prescription medications and other opiates are often easier for adults to obtain and they may feel less able to reach out to external professional or personal sources for support.
Things to Consider
Connecting Opiates and Bullying
Opiates may be prescribed following injury resulting from bullying, or they may be prescribed to treat other health complaints that have roots in early or late-life bullying. If individuals take these powerful painkillers more often or in greater amounts than prescribed, addiction can develop. Addictions stemming from a prescription rarely begin with the intention to misuse the drug, but they begin just the same. Opiates create tolerance and therefore become less effective over time, many individuals decide to self-medicate or adjust their prescription without consulting their doctor.
Depression and anxiety are caused by bullying, and they are two mental health issues that are often linked to opiate addiction. They may predate the disease, develop as addiction develops or involve a combination of preexisting and addiction-induced symptoms. ABC News explains, “Many people turn to substances, whether it’s alcohol or other drugs of abuse to actually change how they feel. In some cases, they are able to change how they feel in the short run, but in the long run, they create much worse problems for themselves, as the drug of abuse often worsens the depression over the course of days, weeks or months.” Individuals may find that opiates prescribed for pain also numb symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues stemming from bullying. However they do not actually address any of these underlying issues, and the effects of bullying will continue to contribute to addiction and affect quality of life until individuals find effective treatment for themselves or their loved one.
Ending Addiction and the Effects of Bullying
Opiates may provide temporary relief, but they do not provide a real solution. Integrated mental health and addiction treatment does. Call our helpline to learn more about treatment options that understand the impact bullying has on mental and physical health. We will connect you to addiction treatment programs that address all aspects of addiction so that you can live a full, happy life in recovery. All calls are free, confidential and no pressure, so please don’t hesitate to reach out today.
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 http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/effects. “Effects of Bullying.” StopBullying.gov. Web. 15 May 2016.
 http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/study-finds-link-between-school-bullies-and-substance-use/. “Study Finds Link Between School Bullies and Substance Use.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. 9 Mar 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.
 http://nobullying.com/bullying-not-just-kids/. “Bullying Adults – Not Just Kinds Anymore!” NoBullying.com. 15 Jun 2014. Web. 15 May 2016.
 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/DepressionScreening/story?id=4355978. “What Is the Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse?” ABC News. 27 Feb 2008. Web. 15 May 2016.