All Resources logo

The Link Between Bullying and Substance Abuse


This blog is going to examine the link between bullying and substance abuse. As discuseed in our previous blog, there is a link between bullying and mental health issues, but what do bullying and substance abuse have in common? To answer this, it is important to look at the relationship between bullying and substance abuse. The term substance abuse is not limited to just drugs and alcohol, it also includes food.

The Relationship Between Bullying and Substance Abuse

Research has shown that one of the negative effects of bullying in childhood is that the victim is more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol in laters years. A study done by the Daily Mail in 2017 reported that children that were bullied at school were much more likely than their peers to abuse cannabis and alcohol in their teens. Peer victimization really does have a negative impact on the victims who later choose to abuse substances as a way of coping. Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to mental health issues and also sickness and health complications.

Another form of substance abuse which has been linked to bullying is eating disorders. Unfortunatley, many youngsters and adolescents who are being bullied don’t have the coping skills to deal with the bullying. The feelings of shame, anxiety and sadness can onset eating disorders as a coping mechanism. Binge eating, comfort eating and anorexia are all forms of eating disorders linked to bullying. The development of such disordered eating is often how a victim copes with bullying because it gives them a form of control. Substance abuse as a result of bullying is damaging and distressing because, with intervention, such behaviours could be prevented.

What Can Be Done About the Worrying Link Between Bullying and Substance Abuse?

What do substance abuse and bullying have in common? What should you do if you think that someone you care about is the victim of bullying? Firstly, pay attention and look for the signs. If your loved one is isolating themselves, find out why — don’t ignore it. Telling a victim to stand up for themselves or not to pay attention to the bully won’t necessarily make it stop. Find the supports that are available and let the victim know that there are people and organisations that can help them. By being pro-active, it is possible to break the link between bullying and substance abuse.