Hazing in high school can involve forced humiliation, beatings, or coerced alcohol use, all of which can create psychological trauma and lead to drug abuse.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), teen hazing is a temporary form of bullying typically committed by a group. Existing group members bully teens who want to be newly accepted into the group, requiring them to perform humiliating rituals before they can join.

While teen hazing victims may consent to participate in these rituals, they are degrading, embarrassing, and at times dangerous. Unfortunately, 47 percent of students report a history of hazing during high school, and hazing in high school can lead to substance abuse among teens. 

High School Hazing vs Hazing in College

According to experts, high school hazing can occur in sports, band, performing arts, and programs such as Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Per the research, hazing in college can become part of a school’s culture. While people may view college hazing as being a normal part of only athletics or Greek life, it can occur in any club or activity on campus. 

One difference with high school versus college hazing is that students feel there is limited prevention for hazing at the college level. In high school, however, hazing is being addressed. NFHS has reported that there are strict anti-hazing policies in high schools today, and those who take part are being punished. Coaches who condone hazing are even losing their jobs. 

Examples of Teen Hazing in High School

High school hazing can involve any activity that is meant to embarrass or demean students who are joining a new sports team or club. Examples of hazing include:

  • Forced Consumption of Drugs or Alcohol- Teen alcohol abuse and drug abuse can be a result of forced consumption of drugs or alcohol as a part of hazing rituals. Hazing facts show that forced alcohol consumption is a widespread hazing activity, and 82 percent of fatal hazing incidents involve alcohol. 
  • Forced Humiliation- Experts report that hazing can also involve forced humiliation, such as using degrading names toward victims, making them wear clothing that humiliates them, asking them to perform in embarrassing skits, or forcing them to behave as servants. 
  • Beating, Paddling, or Other Physical Acts of Violence- It has also been reported that hazing can involve students physically beating their victims, which can lead to serious injuries and the use of pain medications. This form of hazing can cause teen prescription drug abuse. 
  • Isolation from Others and Demand for Adherence to “Code of Silence”- As the University of Massachusetts Amherst has reported, hazing is typically performed in secrecy, and a common theme among those who participate in hazing is isolating victims. Drug abuse among teens may occur when hazing makes them feel socially isolated or alone.

How Teen Hazing Contributes to Teen Addiction

High school hazing can have serious consequences that increase the risk of addiction among teens. Victims of hazing may suffer from physical or psychological side effects that eventually lead to addiction. Some risks associated with teen hazing are:

  • Depression- Being humiliated by a hazing incident can cause teens to become depressed, which can increase the risk of drug abuse. For example, one study found that teenage depression was associated with opiate abuse, and episodes of depression tended to come before the use of opiates. Teens who suffer from depression after a hazing incident may use opiates or other drugs to self-medicate, and with continued use, an addiction can develop. 
  • Anxiety- Students who develop anxiety as a result of a hazing experience may also use drugs to relieve stress and help them to feel more calm. Over time, an addiction can occur.
  • Injury- In extreme cases of hazing, a student may suffer a serious physical injury that requires medical treatment. If a victim is prescribed prescription pain medications following a hazing injury, it is possible that he or she will become addicted. 
  • Peer Pressure- Peer pressure can influence a teen to participate in hazing activities, and in turn can result in drug abuse. For example, experts indicate that subjecting victims to sleep deprivation is a form of hazing. Students may abuse stimulant drugs to help them stay awake during long nights of hazing and become addicted to these substances.

If your teen has been subjected to hazing and has begun to abuse drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the psychological trauma of being a victim of this practice, teen drug rehab may be necessary.  The Recovery Village offers comprehensive addiction treatment services and has locations around the country. Contact the admissions department today to discuss your teen’s needs and to start on the journey toward recovery. 

Daron Christopher
Editor – Daron Christopher
Daron Christopher is an experienced speechwriter, copywriter and communications consultant based in Washington, DC. Read more
Jenni Jacobsen
Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

National Federation of State High School Associations. “Hazing in high school athletics.”  September 6, 2017. Accessed August 11, 2019.

Olsen, Janet. “Hazing practices are all too common a[…] school levels.” Michigan State University, July 18, 2016. Accessed August 11, 2019.

Allen, Elizabeth, and Madden, Mary. “Hazing in view: College students at risk.” National Study of Student Hazing, March 11, 2008. Accessed August 11, 2019.

Stetson University. “Facts and myths.”  Accessed August 11, 2019.

University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Hazing myths.” 2019. Accessed August 11, 2019.

Edlund, Mark, et al. “Opioid abuse and depression in adol[…]Use and Health.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence,July 2015. Accessed August 11, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.