“At the bottom of every person’s dependency, there is always pain. Discovering the pain and healing it is an essential step in ending dependency.” -Chris Prentiss
Of course, it made sense to me. Recently I have had several substance abuse recovery centers contact me about sharing resources. For so long, I stayed away from this subject, but know that it is so important for so many. People of all ages, but particularly teens, find a need to escape the reality of being bullied and turn to drugs and alcohol.
I knew that formal studies had been done and also knew from some first-hand experience that I talk about in my memoir “A Ladder in the Dark”. But I shy away from drugs and those years for me because I understand the fear tied with the dependency of substances for someone in mental pain. But the studies show that both the bully victim and bully both are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. This need to escape is a strong feeling among this group. So how do we change the risk of this happening?
Yes, there are things we can do to look out for the problems:
If you are a friend
If you are a friend with the person, you will probably be the most aware person to be able to help. Many times, a substance abuser will out and out confront you and ask you if you want to also do some drugs and/or alcohol. The peer pressure is great and you may be tempted, but caring about your friend’s health, particularly if you know they deal with bullying, can help you to override this feeling. Be strong and ask your friend the great question: WHY?
If you are family
As a family member, you know routines and notice behavior changes. You might even smell the substance on them. The idea of being firm, but fair plays in here. Discipline might be needed, but also empathy. Remember empathy must come from true knowledge. I know too many parents, though, that tell their children they abused drugs or drank alcohol illegally. Resist this temptation as it only offers your child reasons for doing it. Instead, let them know you care greatly for them and their health. Be a role model for them and offer them a hand to hold.
If you are a part of the community
Does the community you live in condone drug and alcohol abuse? Let’s face it, some places have big issues with this and are you actively trying to change this? If not, it will continue and we know also that substance abuse and crime in communities go hand in hand. You think you are only one person in a sea of people in your community. But that’s how grass movements start. Look for signs in your community and try to work with the local police to bolster their program
Finally, as I have learned from these substance abuse centers, if a bully victim or bully needs recovery, there are so many sources of support out there. You can find a few on my website links of groups that focus on the bullying and substance abuse issue. It just can’t be ignored any longer and I hope you or your loved one seeks help. Because the one thing that no one wants to talk about, but we all know is that this abuse can kill and even rob someone of living their authentic life. Many times, in the bullying world, abusing substances is a cry for help, to repair a broken soul and self-esteem. There is help and usually it is right around the corner.
Alan Eisenberg’s new novel on bullying “Crossing the Line” is now out wherever books are sold.