How bullying can lead to alcohol addiction – and how you can fight it

By Sally Writes

Bullying is a scourge on society, and it’s something that a shockingly high number of people have experienced.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on UnsplashIn fact, the U.S. government has reported that more than one in four American students get bullied at school. And as the New York Times points out, bullying can take place in the workplace and in the community too, not just in school.

The consequences, meanwhile, can be profound: among other possible outcomes, studies show a clear link between bullying and addiction issues. If this is something that has happened to you or one of your loved ones, then, this article is here to help you understand the problem – and work out some potential community, medical or rehab-focused solutions, too.

The link: Bullying and alcohol

Several studies have indicated that there is, tragically, a link between alcohol addiction and bullying. One study by the University of Delaware in Newark showed that the psychological consequences of victimization for 24% of bullied fifth-graders included alcohol dependence. A further study by Luk, Wang and Simons-Morton also found that while most adolescents who went through bullying also experienced mental health problems, the risk of alcohol addiction as a result of bullying was noticeable, particularly in girls. While the reasons for this are unknown, it sadly reveals yet another pressure that young women in modern society face.

The solutions: From root causes to rehab

There’s no one size fits all solution to this problem, and the best course of action to take will often depend in large part on your particular circumstances. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, it may be worth working out whether the problem is a temporary fix as a result of newfound distress or whether it is a long-term dependency problem. If it’s the former, then tackling the root cause may be enough to reduce the issue.

If the bullying is occurring in a high school or workplace context, there’ll be a formal structure that you can follow in order to take action. In schools, approaching a homeroom teacher in the first instance or even the principal is usually enough to set solutions in motion, such as separating the victim from the bully. And in a workplace, speaking to the human resources department – and taking a trusted colleague, friend or union representative along to the meeting too – will again help tackle the cause.

If the issue is more long-running, it’s possible that another supportive solution will need to be found. Addressing the bullying is still worth doing – but the issue with alcohol addiction is that the longer it persists, the harder it is to tackle. It’s wise to consider approaching a primary care practitioner in the first instance, or consider staying at a rehab clinic.

With the link between bullying and mental health problems like addiction firmly established in studies and tests, it’s time to start thinking about solutions. While there is no fixed way to do it, there are options for individuals, parents and concerned friends to take. Whether it’s support to tackle the root cause or a trip to a rehabilitation clinic, there are lots of options available – so doing research and finding out the best course of action to take is key.