Bullying, Mental Health, and Addiction
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Bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. It often occurs among kids and teens in school, on the bus, or the playground. Now kids and teens are targeted through social media apps, and text messages. This type of bullying is known as cyber-bullying. Victims of cyber-bullying are often bullied, harassed, and intimidated through posts on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
What Is the Definition of Bullying?
According to the American Psychological Association, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.”
Cyber bullying is the act of using technology to send or share mean, intimidating, harmful, or embarrassing messages or pictures to or about someone. It can be in the form of an email, text, message, or post on social media. Young children and teens are very susceptible to cyber bullying due to the popularity of online and social media interaction among that age group. It is important to talk with children and teens about bullying and cyber bullying.
Effects of Bullying on Students
Bullying has a severe impact on a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied have trouble with concentration, which shows a decline in grades. A bullied student loses self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. He or she is at high risk of substance use disorders and addiction due to using drugs or alcohol to cope.
Bullying or harassment at school or work can put a person at high risk of health problems. A student who is bullied is at risk of physical problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, and sleep disruption. Bullying can be devastating and can contribute to the development of heart problems. This is due to the high level of stress the body is constantly enduring.
When the brain recognizes a stressful situation, it stimulates the release of a hormone that encourages your kidneys to release epinephrine. This causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, “which raises your blood pressure and pulse, increases your blood sugar levels and prepares your muscles for action, while suppressing less essential processes such as immune and digestive function.” (American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 2014).
Bullying can lead to behavioral changes. The victim might act out and become aggressive and unreasonable. They could develop mood swings and become hostile, or withdrawn and isolated. Bullying affects appetite and can result in weight loss or weight gain.
Kids Who Bully Others
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent, spontaneous, and risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are at high risk of:
- Using drugs and alcohol in adolescence and as adults
- Getting into fights, vandalizing property, and dropping out of school
- Engaging in early sexual activity
- Having criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Becoming abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults (StopBullying.gov).
Kids are not the only victims of bullying. Bullying also happens to adults. Bullying manifests into behaviors like verbal abuse, sabotaging work and relationships, and misusing authority. Verbal bullying refers to words that harm others, such as name-calling, insults, sexual or prejudiced comments, teasing, intimidating, and taunting.
Bullying is traumatic and can also have affect the lives of those who witness bullying. Research in a 2013 issue of the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health found that even witnessing workplace bullying is associated with an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms over the subsequent 18 months.
Signs of workplace bullying:
- Verbal abuse
- Ostracism or isolation
- Withholding resources or information
- Reputation damage due to rumors
- Unfairly negative evaluation of work (Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News & World Report, 2017)
Peer pressure can also be positive and healthy. For example, encouraging kind and inclusive behavior, such as inviting others to join them at the lunch table lets a person know that someone cares. The action of peers encouraging each other to reach out to those who are struggling can have a positive impact on the group and other individuals who want to speak out against bullying.
Treatment for Addiction, Substance Use Disorders, and Mental Health
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Often, people who suffer from addiction or substance use disorder also live with an underlying mental health condition. Bullying can make a devastating impact on the lives of victims. Victims of bullying can experience PTSD, depression, anxiety, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health condition and a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. Mental health, substance use disorders, and addiction are treatable and there is hope in recovery. If you are seeking help for a mental health disorder and addiction, both conditions must be treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best results in recovery. Treatment can be tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Save a life and get help today. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and recovery is possible.
“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.”
~ Aldous Huxley
Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.