Alcohol and Bullying: A Tragic Combination

Bullying, aggressive behavior common in schools, has become a source of many modern news reports. 1 out of 3 children and teenagers are victimized by aggressive or damaging insults at school. Cyberbullying, the act of bulling via the internet, and affects 1 out of 7 teens in the United States. Tragically, alcohol and bullying often go hand in hand.

Behaviors typical of mixing alcohol and bullying include,

  • Mockery
  • Put downs
  • Gossip
  • Teasing
  • Exclusion
  • Blaming/shaming
  • Pushing/Hitting
  • Malicious rumors
  • Racial/religious insults
  • Humiliation
  • Violence
  • Many more

Understanding the Impact of Alcohol and Bullying

The unhealthy dynamic of hurting others by providing undesirable and toxic communication patterns, fueled by the bully’s perceived imbalance of power can breed unhealthy behaviors in the victim. Victims of bullying can internalize the aggression from the attacker and develop short-term and long-term symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-harm (cutting, eating disorders)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Low self-worth
  • Low motivation
  • Low academic performance
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Aggression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Insomnia
  • Panic disorders
  • Low self-confidence
  • Self-isolation
  • Higher risk of decreased mental wellness

Bullies are sometimes closeted victims of abuse and are more likely to:

  • Engage in sexually risky behavior
  • Engage in more acts of violence
  • Have criminal convictions
  • Abuse alcohol or other substances
  • Suffer depression
  • Suffer anxiety
  • Fall victim to suicide

Bystanders of bullying also develop harmful symptoms of trauma such as:

  • Increased substance abuse
  • Skipping or being absent from school
  • Have increased mental and emotional trauma

Victims of bullying often self-medicate by abusing drugs and alcohol in their youth, or progress into substance abuse disorders in adulthood to cope with childhood trauma. According to surveys surrounding bullying and alcohol abuse risks, bullied sixth graders admitted to having depression by the time they were in seventh grade. This is no surprise, as bullying often occurs between grades four through seven.

Bullying and Suicide Risk

The Consequences of Alcohol and Bullying Tragically Often Extend to the Digital RealmBullying and suicide have strong connections, and studies are ongoing to understand the dangers of the toxic behavior. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people in the U.S.,  according to CDC statistics. Victims of bullying are up to 9 times more likely to participate in suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation is the tendency to think about or consider suicide. Young girls, in particular, are more likely to consider suicide post-bullying.

Teens who are considering suicide may also abuse alcohol or drugs to cope with low moods that often preface suicided ideation. Concerning signs of suicidal ideation in bullied teens are follows:

  • Depressive moods
  • Interest in death
  • Withdrawing from hobbies
  • Admitting to suicide ideation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Suicide attempts

If your child or teen shows the abuse signs, connect with their pain by showing empathy and compassion. Connect them with a treatment professional who can get them access to medication and community to heal.

How Are Alcohol and Bullying Connected?

Bullying impacts victims, bullies, and bystanders by creating emotional and mental disorders, which can follow them into their later years. The result of bullying often appears through the use of drugs or alcohol.

Victims of bullies were 3 times more likely to abuse drugs and 7 times more likely to abuse alcohol. Other studies report bullies were 4.8 times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and victims who were bullied at age 8 were more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs by the time they were 18.

Helping Your Teen Find a Voice Again

Bullying is a painful experience that can imprint the teen’s or child’s life for the rest of their lives. Teens who start abusing alcohol are more likely to spiral into alcoholism in adulthood. Luckily, help is out there. Treatment providers guide prospective patients to facilities with adolescent-themes in mind for the best healing available. Therapists are available on-site to repair underlying challenges teens feel after being bullied. Take control and stop the cycle of abuse before it worsens. Please contact a treatment provider today.

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