The Link Between Cyberbullying and Substance Abuse

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According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 30% of kids that age have experienced cyberbullying. While technology has many positive impacts on society, the negative consequences can lead victims to substance abuse for relief. In addition, there is a direct link between cyberbullying and substance abuse. It does not stop with our youth. Anyone of any age is vulnerable to cyberbullies. 

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the term used to describe the parallel to face-to-face bullying, but this negative power play occurs within the confines of the internet. Computers, cell phones, and tablets are instrumental in spreading negativity about a victim to a large audience. Unfortunately, when cyberbullying makes our vulnerable youth their victims, they do not understand how to cope. Researchers have linked cyberbullying and substance abuse as a result of this trend.

Cyberbullying is destructive to mental and physical health. While bullying basics appear to assert power over people, these isolating acts connect cyberbullying and substance abuse. Bullying is never good, but the scope is much broader when vicious attacks escalate through texts, emails, and social media platforms. Fear, depression, and anxiety are widespread among victims of this type of bullying, leaving them in despair. 

Bullies use posts, share, and send false or mean, harmful information about another kid with the intent to make fun of them on the internet. Additionally, texts, pictures, videos, screenshots, and memes to purport pain and hurt can link cyberbullying to substance abuse. Although many victims are children and teens, everyone is susceptible to cyberbullying and, with no known coping mechanism, can turn to drugs. Finally, criminal behaviors using blackmail and hate crimes are thrust onto social media to hurt others via cyberbullying. 

How to Pinpoint Cyberbullying Tactics

All forms of cyberbullying need to be recognized and taken seriously. No matter how innocuous the cyberbullying may seem to the perpetrator, it can hurt the victim. Not only are cyberbullying and substance abuse connected, but you can also link suicidal thoughts to the stressful events surrounding cyberbullying incidents. Therefore, we must put the following forms of cyberbullying in the spotlight to raise awareness of this intense problem.

Exclusion

Bullies purposefully isolate a victim through online conversations, activities, and social media platforms. Exclusion separates and instills a sense of rejection from the group. This isolation leaves the victim feeling sad and lonely. This exclusion through cyberbullying and substance abuse as a coping mechanism leads to additional harm. 

Outing or Doxing Behaviors

The cyberbully uses extremely sensitive or personal information to humiliate or shame the victim openly. It is not unusual for the bully to post online photos, documents, and other extremely personal info obtained after gaining the victim’s trust. This virtual betrayal ties cyberbullying and substance abuse as a self-medicating coping mechanism. In some cases, cyberbullying can lead the victim to have suicidal thoughts. 

Cyberstalking

Perhaps the most dangerous and severe type of cyberbullying includes threats of physical harm to the victim. In combination with physical stalking of the victim, the bully utilizes false accusations and threats to intimidate the victim. This type of cyberbullying can often be considered a crime. Cyberstalking is very serious and can bring attention to the connection between cyberbullying and substance abuse as an outlet for fear and desperation. 

Fraping

This cyberbullying occurs when a cyberbully hacks social network accounts to post inappropriate content. Inappropriate content can include racial or homophobic slurs, info intended to ruin a reputation, or other hostile intentions. Cyberbullies generally have an agenda and use every means possible to spread hate. Often isolated and filled with fear, cyberbullying and substance abuse combine to disable the victims. 

Catfishing or Masquerading

The cyberbully creates fake profiles to initiate false intentions with other people online. Many victims of catfishing invest all their love and emotion into a relationship with the perpetrator. This form of cyberbullying and substance abuse connect through emotional devastation. Catfishing portrayed through a television show exposes both sides of this harassment. 

What Are the Effects of Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying has many different effects on all of its victims. However, the link between cyberbullying and substance abuse remains a coping mechanism for victims’ fear and misery. Therefore, it is essential to distinguish the victim’s pain as being very “real” and validate their situation and pain. The effects of cyberbullying can have an impact not just on one’s mental health, but their emotional and physical health as well. 

Victims may not have the tools to cope emotionally with cyberbullying and resort to substance abuse for relief. Without the proper knowledge to process these volatile feelings and emotions, cyberbullying and substance abuse connect to fuel the comfort needed for the pain. The younger the victim, the fewer tools they have to cope with cyberbullying. 

The following effects show the link between the two as a coping mechanism. 

  • Humiliation and anger
  • Isolation and powerlessness
  • Low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Academic problems and disruptions
  • Substance abuse with alcohol or drugs
  • Buying and carrying weapons
  • Eating disorders and sleep disturbances

The Link Between Cyberbullying and Substance Abuse

Cyberbullying is destructive and hurtful behavior that devastates the victim. Today, cyberbullying has replaced face-to-face bullying behavior and focuses on youth. In addition, teens who are the victims link cyberbullying and substance abuse to cope with their pain. Adults are also victims, and resort to substance abuse to cope with difficult emotions and feelings. In some cases, addiction treatment is needed.

Find Help for Cyberbullying and Substance Abuse in Los Angeles, CA

Contact Launch Centers for recovery from substance abuse developed in response to cyberbullying. We work with youth who have experienced the devastation of cyberbullying. Our treatment professionals use compassionate methods to dig deeper into the source of the teen’s pain to instill more positive and healthy coping mechanisms. Cyberbullying hurts everyone, and we encourage a supportive family presence. Contact Launch Centers now for more information.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD

Psychiatrist

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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

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