Using Alcohol to Cope With Bullying

Alcohol abuse before and after bullying with all parties involved

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Being bullied at school, which is supposed to be a safe place, can spark the need to cope. Some teens are turning to alcohol after bullying incidents. Researchers say this is not a good mix.

A recent study looked at teens for alcohol abuse rates in relation to bullying in 7th through 12th graders.

The study found that alcohol abuse was 1.5 times more common among bullied students, regardless of gender, grade level or race.

"Talk to your kids about alcohol abuse."

Keith King, PhD, professor of health promotion, and Rebecca Vidourek, PhD, assistant professor of health promotion, at the University of Cincinnati, presented their research at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association.

For the study, 54,361 students from 7th through 12th grade in Cincinnati area schools were surveyed about bullying and alcohol use.

The 2009-2010 PRIDE survey on drug use was given to these students in their classrooms by the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati.

A total of 38 percent of students surveyed report they had been bullied in a violent way. These students were 1.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol than non-bullied kids.

Non-white males in the 7th and 8th grades were the most likely to be bullied.

Bullied youths often reported feeling symptoms of depressions, anxiety, social anxiety, loneliness, lowered grades, feeling unsafe at school, trouble with relationships, and alcohol use and abuse.

Grade level, gender and race factored into how severe and what type of bullying occurred, but did not factor into alcohol abuse by students who had been bullied.

Dr. King said, “The overall effect of victimization and alcohol use did not differ based on sex, age or race. It has an overall impact on their drinking rates and level of intoxication across all categories.”

“Also, bullies and their victims are reporting similar types of activity in relation to their drinking patterns. We believe the alcohol abuse may often be an effort to escape problems and to self-medicate.”

Authors hoped the findings from this study would help health professionals to develop prevention methods for violent-related behaviors and alcohol use and abuse for students.

Studies in the future will need to identify specific activities that can be designed for the family, school and community to use to help protect students from bullying and prevent alcohol use and abuse.

Drs. King and Vidourek found that students involved in school activities, community organizations or sports programs were less likely to bully others or be bullied by others.

This research was presented at the 140th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Francisco, CA, on October 29, 2012. All research is considered preliminary until it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

No funding information was provided and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 6, 2012
Last Updated:
November 9, 2012