Bullying can cause long-term trauma and victims often turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Self medication and addiction can come in a variety of forms including abusing prescription drugs. Teens and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to bullying and social pressures. Adolescence is a critical developmental stage as one transitions into adulthood. At this age, we begin to consolidate our identities, develop our personalities and find our place in the world.
The trauma bullying has on a teenagers can lead to major depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. Combine these factors and the connection between addiction and bullying becomes clear. Chronic anxiety and panic disorders can lead to social isolation as well as the inability to trust easily. Vulnerable teenagers often find themselves submitting to peer pressure in an effort to belong and be accepted.
A troubled teenager may engage in a number of self-destructive behaviours such as:
- Underage drinking
- Binge drinking
- Drug abuse
- Violence or getting into fights
- Risky sexual behaviour
- Eating disorders
What can you do as a parent to help your child?
As a parent, you may feel hopeless and unable to help your child cope with bullying. Unfortunately, many parents fail to recognise the changes in their teenager’s behaviour. They may assume that their child’s uncharacteristic behaviour is a part of ‘growing pains’ and not take the situation seriously until intervention is needed. Depression and anxiety can also present as rage or aggression. All these confusing emotions make communication during this phase critical. It is vitally important to have an open relationship with your teen. Family therapy provides a safe, neutral environment where problem behaviours can be addressed.
If you suspect your teenager is taking drugs, speak to an intervention counsellor today. If you are unsure of how to handle the situation, contact Recovery Direct for expert advice. If your child is already in the grips of a drug addiction and you are seeking in-patient rehab for teens, call us today. While it is important to have the full cooperation of a person suffering from substance abuse, sometimes you need to help them take the first step.