Long Term Effects of Bullying Include Substance Abuse

In recent years, the issue of bullying has been brought up by many educators, parents and even celebrities. As much of the world embraces others for their differences, there is still a significant portion that holds a person’s differences against them. This can be especially common in grade school, junior high and high school, where children can be tormented by their peers. In an effort to examine just how bullying affects children, researchers at the University of Delaware set out to conduct a study directly related to this topic.

They found that not only is bullying highly damaging to the child while they’re going through it, but being bullied can actually increase a child’s chances of drug use. According to the report, children who are severely bullied in fifth grade are more likely to abuse alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Additionally, by the time these children reach the seventh grade they are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, which may account for their use of drugs in tenth grade. Self-medication through drug use is more common among those that have depression. Unfortunately drug use during this time can also lead to brain development problems as well as more social problems.

“Peer victimization really matters, and we need to take it seriously – this echoes the messages educators already have been receiving. The study gives some additional evidence as to why it’s important to intervene. It also may give teachers insight into why students are depressed or using substances in middle and high school,” explained Valerie Earnshaw, a social psychologist and assistant professor at University of Delaware.

This report, which used information gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to inform teachers and educators, but also to help the children themselves. Youth that are being bullied may find solace in the fact that their problems are real and that not talking about them can lead them down a path of drug use and further depression problems.

Extreme Side Effects of Synthetic Drugs Among Adolescents

One population that has been greatly affected by the rising popularity of synthetic drugs, specifically synthetic marijuana, is adolescents. This is likely due to the fact that young people can often obtain the substances without going to a drug dealer, they are (falsely) perceived as being safer than street drugs and there is very little education on the dangers of these types of compounds. In an effort to combat this trend, a group of researchers has published a study that examines and highlights the grave dangers of using such drugs, especially on the developing brain of an adolescent.

One of the important factors of this study was that it was a longitudinal study. This means that the 964 high school students that were interviewed about their drug use, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms and any other emotional or physical ailment was conducted again on the same students a year later. This type of study allowed the researchers to document the changes, if any, that were being reported.

They found that students who exhibited depressive symptoms appeared to be more likely to gravitate towards the use of synthetic marijuana. This was important information because educators, health care officials and parents can learn to spot indicators before a child resorts to synthetic marijuana use. Preventing experimentation and abuse of this drug is vital because the side effects of synthetic marijuana are extreme. Suicidal thoughts and ideations, seizures, strokes, paranoia, extreme anxiety and depression are all common among young people who use these drugs.

And while the outcome of the study was to highlight the dangers of synthetic marijuana use, the researchers did not set out to make this the focus of their work. “Substance use is one of the risk factors that we were particularly interested in studying, and of course, we think alcohol, drug use and other mental health outcomes are important to examine in their own right. Over time, we became aware of synthetic cannabinoid use in adolescents and decided that it was critical to add that variable to our research as well,” explained Gregory Stuart, co-author of the study and psychology professor at The University of Texas.