Bullying can affect men and women of all ages, races, education backgrounds, in all ranges of social and economic standings.

It most commonly affects those within the teenage demographic, but has become increasingly more popular in adulthood as well.

The effects of bullying are many, and the severity varies per case, perpetrator and the victim’s style of coping, but one of the most common coping mechanisms is substance use.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the different effects bullying has on adults as well as how it can lead to the development of a substance use disorder or exacerbate an existing habit.

How can bullying affect someone?

The unfortunate truth is bullying is rarely a one-time incident; if you see someone being bullied once, they’re probably receiving the abuse on a regular basis.

Because of this, all bullying instances need to be taken seriously

Some of the most common effects of bullying include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Feelings of fear or being unsafe
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Bullying affects individuals in different ways, depending on existing mental conditions, previous traumas, home environment, age and more.

Childhood bullying versus adult bullying

Bullying does not end on the playground, in the halls of a middle school or in high school.

Adult bullying can develop due to a variety of factors, including—insecurity, jealousy, ambition, competition, as well as unhealed childhood traumas—specifically ones where they were a victim.

While childhood bullying commonly involves fighting, scratching, pushing, name-calling and taunting, adult bullying can be far more complex, subtle and cruel. Adult bullying also often goes undetected because adults are not closely supervised as children or teenagers who have guidance counselors aside from parental help.

Kids in middle school and high school are encouraged to seek adult help for bullying they’re experiencing on any level. Adults are typically only prepped on how to seek help when they’re experiencing abuse on a more severe level, such as in the case of sexual harrasment or assault.

As a result, the majority of adults experiencing bullying never seek professional help, and often turn to self-medicating as a way to cope with the abuse.

Addiction and bullying

Because of the many ways bullying can break down someone’s mental, emotional and physical health, they might reach a point where they don’t feel as if they can even function anymore.

Hesitant to seek professional help, they may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to keep them semi-above water as they avoid dealing with the abuse they’re receiving.

Alternatively, someone who uses substances frequently (recreationally or medically) may start turning to substances more frequently or start upping their intake. This form of use, or abuse, is done to manage the different ways bullying is negatively impacting their lives.

Regardless, the connection between bullying, mental health and substance use has become more widely recognized. Bullying, even in adulthood, can have a lasting impact on the individual, one that affects them in the present as well as years in the future (when left unaddressed).

While there are resources for adults who are experiencing bullying, many are still reluctant

Even when someone thinks they have their drug or alcohol use under control, if they’re using it as a coping mechanism, that usually means they don’t. Substance use disorders that are dismissed or ignored can be extremely dangerous to an individual’s health, and can result in death when left untreated.

When substance abuse or addiction is present, it’s important to seek professional help.

Reach out for help

Bullying does not have to be tolerated on any level, by individuals of any age.

If you or someone you love is suffering from bullying or a substance use disorder, send a message to our team here at Real Recovery Clinical. 

We are a renowned mental health treatment and substance use rehab program for adults of all ages. The three pillars of our successful modality are deep intervention, individual change and continued support.

We provide client-focused care that is composed of a variety of proven clinical services designed to help restore your (sober) joy and fulfillment in life. 

To learn more about how we can help you specifically, call us today.