Exploiting women and youth is a crime that is often associated with drug abuse. Particularly in light of this country’s opioid epidemic, there is evidence to suggest a close relationship between human trafficking and drug addiction. Some addicts have to face the challenge of escaping from their abusers and also finding appropriate help in a substance abuse treatment program.

What is Human Trafficking?

In its most basic form, human trafficking is the equivalent of modern-day slavery. People, often women, youth, and immigrants, are forced to provided services for little or no pay and are not given basic freedoms. These “trafficked” people are often taken far from their homes and are under the complete control of another person or group. Some of the work that they are forced to do is manual labor, but much involves sexual exploitation such as prostitution. One of the ways that the traffickers lure and control their victims is with illegal drugs.

How Human Trafficking is Linked to Drug Abuse

It turns out that illegal drugs, such as opioids, are an ideal component to a successful human trafficking operation. One report by the Berkshire Eagle confirms that this problem is widespread. In Massachusetts alone, arrests are beginning to mount since the state passed a human trafficking law in 2012. The Department of Homeland Security arrested more than 1,400 people on human trafficking offenses in 2015 alone.

These traffickers often target people with substance use disorders and use the promise of unlimited drugs to keep their victims under control. A perpetrator may stake out the local methadone clinic for potential victims, and some are even sold into the trade by addicted family members. Once trapped by a human trafficker, it becomes more bearable to stay high on drugs than to endure the pain and suffering of life as a prisoner. Unfortunately, that same victim also becomes even more dependent on captors for the addictive drugs.

One woman comforting another woman in a substance abuse treatment program

Victims of human trafficking can get help through a qualified substance abuse treatment program.

Some Common Signs of Human Trafficking

Not all victims of this dreadful practice are hidden away from public view. Human trafficking is illegal, so being able to spot the signs of someone in distress could help save a life. The National Institutes on Drug Abuse reports that several common signs of human trafficking include:

  • An illness or unusual injuries that have no explanation
  • A person who is unable to speak with someone without a third person being present
  • Someone who cannot choose where they live or have access to acceptable forms of identification

Substance Abuse Treatment Help for Victims of Human Trafficking

A person who has been under the control of others may live in fear of both freedom and withdrawal from drugs. It is not uncommon to face feelings of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the forced activities and dependence on substances. The good news is that there is help available.

Resolving these issues may be difficult, but a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program can help you break free from your substance abuse problem to reclaim your life through compassionate care and personalized therapies. Contact us now to speak with one of our specialists about admissions.

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Drug Abuse and Human Trafficking: Exploring the Connection
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