Peer pressure is often blamed for teen use of drugs and alcohol, but too often, it is adults who encourage substance use among minors. Sometimes, it’s for the purposes of abuse and exploitation.
In a recent case in Florida, a 34-year-old man met a 16-year-old girl on social media who had run away from home. He invited her over, got her drunk and high, and then had sex with her, ultimately inviting a friend his age to join them. Additionally, the men made videos of their encounters with the child and shared them online – through Craigslist ads, via email, in texts, on Kik, and Skype. More than 200 videos as well as 170 pictures of one of the defendants having sex with the child were found on his phone at the time of his arrest.
Both men will spend anywhere from 15 to 30 years in federal prison as a result of their guilty pleas that included confessions detailing the ways in which they exploited this child, starting with plying her with alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine.
A Form of Control
It is not just in situations where one person is an adult and the other a minor that drugs and alcohol may be used as a method of control. There are incidents in which people spike drinks at bars or parties with pills that are incapacitating for the purposes of taking advantage of the person, resulting in rape, other assault, or robbery.
There are also situations in which someone with an addiction may endeavor to get or keep someone else in active addiction in order to avoid any unwanted changes regarding drug use in the home. Someone who is not addicted may feel that if they enable the addiction of a loved one that at least the loved one will continue to be in the home.
Many drug dealers will make a drug cheap or free initially in order to get people hooked and then jack up the prices. This is not a myth; it is normal practice. It is also a common marketing tactic to give a little extra in a bag or to spike it with another cheaper, more potent drug with the goal of making customers into return customers – even if it renders the drug far more dangerous.
There is no shortage of ways in which mind-altering and addictive substances can be used to take control of someone in the moment or for the long-term. It is just one of many reasons to avoid drug use entirely, especially when in recovery from addiction. When there is no use at all, there is no ability to make a mistake that is life-threatening or even life-ending.
Healing and Recovery
Experts say that use of drugs and alcohol contributes to risk of sexual assault and domestic violence as well as other violent assaults. For those with an active addiction, trauma is very often part of their past and a contributing factor in their continued use of substances. In recovery, it becomes necessary to actively address that trauma and all the symptoms it can cause – everything from a lack of self-confidence, misplaced self-blame and guilt, explosive anger, anxiety, codependency, and more. Trauma is often a contributing factor to a range of mental health disorders that will require intensive treatment along with the addiction disorder. Without directed care, ongoing and untreated symptoms can trigger cravings for drugs and alcohol and ultimately cause relapse in recovery. In these cases, it is often recommended to:
- Remain actively engaged with a strong recovery community in the months and years following initial treatment
- Continue to receive mental health treatment for trauma as well as the challenges that may come with sobriety
- Update and change treatment plans for trauma and addiction as goals are met
- Try a range of stress reduction and holistic treatments to get the most out of continued recovery and mental health treatment
Is trauma complicating your life in recovery or contributing to a loved one’s use of drugs and alcohol? How are you working to overcome the problem? What services will help your loved one heal?