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Bullying And Addiction

There is no denying that being bullied can create anxiety and emotional trauma, particularly if it happens on a regular basis. But newer research has shown that young people who experience harassment and physical violence at school are more likely to develop dependencies; particularly when it comes to painkillers.

The website recently released some of the data that proves this point. Tapping in to a study from Acta Paediactrica, they revealed that kids aged 11 to 15 who experience regular peer bullying have a significantly higher rate of painkiller abuse. This can include medications like ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen.

Sometimes these meds were initially taken to help with physical pain. Other times, though, they were sought out as an escape tactic, in the hopes of soothing the emotional trauma that often accompanies a schoolyard bullying incident. In total, it was revealed that over twice as many bullied kids had taken painkillers vs. non-bullied kids. This included a rate of 33.5% each week (vs. 15.2% for those who had not undergone harassment). Interestingly as well, girls had a much higher average than boys.

Study author Pernilla Garmy was quoted in The Fix piece, offering a hypothesis as to why these addictive tendencies are occurring. In her mind, these painkiller pills work as an easy coping mechanism after a difficult incident.

“My hypothesis of the link between bullying and painkiller use could be that if you are feeling satisfied and safe, and then get a headache, you might cope with the pain without medication,” Garmy explained. “But if you are feeling sad and unsecure—a common experience by bullied children and adolescents—the pain might be overwhelming and there is a need for use of analgesics.”

So the truth of the matter is; these pills help to solve a psychological need, as well as a physical ailment. Many kids who experience regular schoolyard injuries do not immediately turn to over-the-counter meds to solve their pain issues. But if an bully attack has occurred, then these types of pills can satisfy an inner need.

Sadly, these statistics do make a lot of sense. As kids (and adults even) deal with the emotional stress of angry, hurtful peers, the need to escape increases. Pills, of course, are not the answer to this problem and ultimately make the emotional heartache worse. If you or someone close to you is experiencing an issue like this, please reach out and get available help.