Addiction and Bullying

It’s no secret that bullying can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Bullying can lead to mental health disorders and addiction (substance use disorder) in adulthood. According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people who were physically bullied as children are more likely to partake in drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is repeated physical, verbal, or socially aggressive behavior involving an imbalance of power. Bullying can occur in person or online and can have a lasting impact on the victim’s mental and physical health.

Our Founder’s Story of Bullying

Types of Bullying

There are many types of bullying, including verbal assault, physical assault, sexual assault, cyberbullying, and social media bullying. Verbal bullying is defined as name-calling, teasing, and put-downs.

Bullying has ALL of the following parts, it is:

  • On purpose
  • Repetitive
  • One-sided
  • Ongoing
  • Meant to cause harm

Bullying is not a single act but rather a pattern of behavior that can take many forms.

The three most common types of bullying are verbal, physical, and social.

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is the use of words to hurt or humiliate someone. It can include name-calling, insults, teasing, and put-downs.

Physical Bullying

Physical bullying is any aggression that involves physically harming another person, including hitting, kicking, pushing, and using weapons.

Social Bullying

Social bullying is any action that damages someone’s reputation or social standing. It can include spreading rumors, exclusion from groups, and public humiliation.


Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon that refers to bullying online or through text messages. It can include sending mean texts or emails, posting hurtful messages or photos on social media, or spreading rumors online. Social media bullying is another form of bullying that can take place on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Cyberbullying has become one of the most prevalent forms of bullying, especially among teenagers. In fact, according to a recent study by Statistic Brain Research Institute, nearly half of all teens have been bullied online.

While girls are more likely than boys to be cyberbullied, anyone can be a victim of this type of bullying.

Cyberbullying can have serious consequences. In fact, according to the same study by Statistic Brain Research Institute, nearly one in four teens who were cyberbullied said that it harmed their self-esteem, and one in ten said that it hurt their grades.

The Lasting Impact of Bullying

Bullying can have a lasting impact on the victim’s mental and physical health. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, bullying can lead to mental health disorders and addiction in adulthood.

Higher risk factors of Bullying can also cause the victim to miss school, have low self-worth, and suffer from anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.

People who have been bullied often use drugs or alcohol to cope with the fear and anxiety. However, what starts as casual drinking or drug use can quickly turn into an addiction.

In addition to coping with their bully-related trauma, people who suffer from addiction also have to deal with the financial stress of paying for their habit, the physical effects of substance abuse on their bodies, and the social stigma surrounding addiction.

How Do Kids Cope with Bullying?

In addition to coping with their bully-related trauma, victims of bullying can turn to drugs to cope. What starts as casual drinking or drug use can quickly become an addiction.

People who suffer from addiction also have to deal with the financial stress of paying for their habit, the physical effects of substance abuse on their bodies, and the social stigma surrounding addiction.

There are a variety of coping mechanisms that children who have been bullied may use.  Some common bullying coping mechanisms and risk factors include:

  • Withdrawing from social activities and becoming isolated
  • Acting out in anger or aggression
  • Blaming themselves and feeling unworthy
  • Struggling with low self-esteem and poor body image
  • Experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders
  • Turning to substance abuse as a way to cope with the pain

Bullying can have lasting effects on a child’s mental and emotional well-being. It’s essential to be aware of the signs that your child may be struggling and get them the help they need to heal. If you suspect your child is being bullied, contact their school.

How Bullying Leads to Addiction

While bullying doesn’t necessarily cause addiction, it can be a significant contributing factor. Bullying can lead to mental health disorders and addiction for several reasons.

Instilling Fear and Anxiety

Victims of constant bullying live in a state of fear and anxiety, leading to them self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to cope with the fear and anxiety. Additionally, bullying can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. According to a study conducted by Yale University, bullying increases the risk of suicide twofold.

Creating an Environment of Isolation and Loneliness

Bullying leads to isolation and loneliness. Bullied victims often isolate themselves from others, leading to loneliness, substance abuse, and addiction.

Contributing to Low Self-Esteem

Bullying can lead to low self-esteem. When a bully victimizes someone, their self-esteem plummets. Low self-esteem can turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their low self-esteem. Additionally, bullying can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Causing Physical Health Problems

Bullying can cause physical health problems and often lead to physical health problems resulting from stress. These physical health problems can lead to substance abuse and addiction as well.

How Bullying Causes Behavioral Disorders

Studies have linked bullying to increased rates of behavioral health disorders. A study that followed children from kindergarten into adulthood found that kids bullied were more likely than their non-bullied peers to develop problems with alcohol use, antisocial personality disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Bullying doesn’t just lead to immediate emotional distress, and the long-term effects of bullying can be just as damaging. Many bullied children never tell anyone about what’s going on; instead, suffering in silence, feeling hopeless as if there’s nowhere to turn.

Does Bullying Cause Eating Disorders?

Bullying has been linked to various mental health disorders in children and adults, including eating disorders. People who have been bullied often experience anxiety, insecurity, and low self-esteem. These feelings can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as binge eating or purging.

Children who are bullied are three times more likely to develop an eating disorder. Girls who are bullied are also more likely to develop body image issues and engage in unhealthy dieting behaviors.

How Can an Adult Support a Bullied Child?

If you are an adult and suspect that a child is being bullied, you can do a few things to help. First, talk to the child. Ask them what is going on and if they feel safe. Listen to their concerns and take them seriously. Bullying can be a very traumatic experience for a child, and it is vital that they feel like they have someone they can talk to.

Next, you should reach out to the school or organization the child belongs to. Adults must create a safe environment for children, including addressing bullying behavior. The school or organization should have policies to deal with bullying, but you can work with other parents or guardians to create change if they do not.

Finally, you can talk to the parents or guardians of the child who is doing the bullying. It is important to talk about their child’s behavior and how it impacts the victim.

Reasons Why Children May Bully Others

The bullying child often acts out because they are experiencing something difficult in their own life. You can better understand the situation and help find a resolution by talking to the parents or guardians.

Most children bully because they feel powerless in their own lives. By bullying others, they feel a temporary sense of power and control. Children who bully have low self-esteem and are easily influenced by their peers. They may have witnessed bullying at home or been the victims of bullying themselves.

Bullying Statistics

According to a National Center for Education Statistics study, bullying is a major problem in schools across the United States.

High School Bullying Statistics

  • 20% of high school students were bullied at school
  • 16% of high school students were cyberbullied
  • 11% of high school students were physically bullied
  • 13% of high school students were verbally bullied

The Intersection of Substance Abuse and Bullying

Unfortunately, bullying often leads to substance abuse. A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that:

  • 64% of people who were bullied in middle school used drugs or alcohol by the time they graduated from high school.
  • 78% of bullying victims who used drugs or alcohol said they started using after being first bullied.

Bullying is a significant problem that can lead to severe consequences. If you or someone you know is being bullied, getting help is crucial. Many resources are available to victims of bullying, including hotlines, counseling, and support groups. Don’t suffer in silence – reach out for help today.

Bullying Male vs Female Statistics

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics, bullying is more common among boys than girls.
  • Girls who bully often spread rumors or engage in social exclusion
  • Boys tend to bully through physical violence or threats.

However, girls are more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys. Cyberbullying is when someone is harassed, humiliated, or otherwise targeted online, and it can happen through social media, text messages, or email.

LGBTQ Bullying Statistics

It’s no secret that bullying is a huge problem, especially for LGBTQ kids. In fact, according to a recent study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ students have experienced bullying at school.

And while bullying can take many different forms – from verbal and physical assault to cyberbullying and social media bullying – it can all have serious consequences.

  • LGBQ youth are four times as likely as their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide.
  • Transgender students are two to three times as likely as cisgender students to attempt suicide.

A 2017 report on LGBTQIA+ students found that :

  • 55% of LGBTQIA+ students had been verbally harassed.
  • 38% had been physically harassed
  • 18% had been physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Bullying Suicide Statistics and Data

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, bullying is more common among boys than girls.

  • Bullying is responsible for nearly one in three youth suicides in the United States each year.
  • Roughly 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because they’re scared of being bullied.
  • Between 15 and 25 percent of all students report being bullied during their school careers.
  • Bullying victims are more likely than their peers to experience anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and poor academic performance.
  • Bullying victims are also more likely to engage in substance abuse to self-medicate with the pain of being bullied.
  • Bullying can affect adulthood, including mental health issues and addiction.

Bullying Statistics by School Level Group

  • Middle School: Middle schoolers are most likely to be bullied, with 28% of students in grades six through eight reporting being bullied at school. (Source: National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • High School: High school students are also at risk for bullying, with 20% of high school students reporting being bullied. (Source: National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • College: College students are also vulnerable to bullying, with 19% of college students reporting being bullied. (Source: National Center for Educational Statistics)

Being Bullied for Religious Beliefs

One type of bullying that is often overlooked is bullying based on religious beliefs (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Atheism)

Religious bullying can include making fun of someone for their religious beliefs, forcing them to participate in activities against their religion, or spreading rumors about them because of their faith.

This type of bullying can be particularly harmful because it attacks someone’s core beliefs and values.

Adult Bullying Statistics

As children, we’re told that bullying is something we should “deal with” and that it will make us stronger. We’re told to stand up for ourselves, be brave, and ignore the mean kids. But we don’t realize that the effects of bullying can last a lifetime.

Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground or in the school cafeteria. It can also happen at work, online, and through social media. And the effects of bullying can be just as damaging to adults as to children.

According to a study by the Workplace Bullying Institute:

  • 28% of adults have been bullied at work
  • 36% of adults have been cyberbullied
  • 54% of bullying victims suffer from anxiety
  • 55% of bullying victims suffer from depression
  • 56% of bullying victims suffer from low self-esteem

According to the same study

  • 54% of bullying victims suffer from anxiety
  • 55% of bullying victims suffer from depression
  • 56% of bullying victims suffer from low self-esteem

How to Prevent Bullying at School

There are many ways to prevent bullying, including:

  • Encourage students to be accepting of others
  • Set up an anti-bullying policy in the school
  • Educate staff and students about bullying and its effects on people
  • Monitor bullying behavior and intervene when it occurs
  • Provide support for students who are bullied or who witness bullying behavior.

Bystanders play an essential role in preventing bullying. They can provide support for the victim and help stop the bullying behavior. If you see someone being bullied, speak up and let the bully know

What Can You Do If You’re Being Bullied?

If you are being bullied, it is important to tell someone who can help. A parent, teacher, school counselor, or doctor may be able to help. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in person, there are many bullying helplines that you can call for support.

It is also important to remember that bullying is not your fault and that you are not alone. Many people care about you and want to help. Reach out for support if you need it.

If you or a loved one is being bullied, many resources are available to help. The National Bullying Prevention Center provides resources, including a bully reporting form and tips for parents and educators. Bullying is a serious issue that can have lasting consequences. If you or someone you know is affected by bullying, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.

– PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

Bullying Support Helplines and Hotlines

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8225)
  • Trevor Project Lifeline for LGBTQ youth:866-488-78624 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any kind of crisis.
  • Bullying Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8225)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7323)
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (46733)
  • National Hopeline Network: 800-784-2433 or text “HOPELINE” to 741741
  • SAMHSA Treatment Program Referral Helpline: 800-662 HELP (4537) or text “HELP” to 741741
Chris Carberg is the Founder of Addiction GuideReviewed by:Chris Carberg Founder & Mental Health Advocate

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Chris Carberg is a visionary digital entrepreneur, the founder of, and a long-time recovering addict from prescription opioids, sedatives, and alcohol.  Over the past 15 years, Chris has worked as a tireless advocate for addicts and their loved ones while becoming a sought-after digital entrepreneur. Chris is a storyteller and aims to share his story with others in the hopes of helping them achieve their own recovery.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction GuideWritten by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

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