Human Trafficking and Drug Abuse

         Something that we haven’t touched on much, since I have been blogging, is the issues of drug use in regards to human trafficking.  The drug industry is one of the biggest underground non-state actors right next to human trafficking. So it’s not too shocking how these two global issues work together hand in hand. Drugs play a significant role in the act of human trafficking. However, unlike what the media often portrays, a lot of victims aren’t drug addicts before being trafficked, but many break free from this with drug addictions and dependencies. There are a few different ways in which drug abuse and human trafficking intertwine. These are through recruitment, control, and coping. (Prevention Summit).

            In regards to recruitment, sometimes victims will actually end up in a trafficking situation due to prior drug abuse. More often than not, this is seen in the sex industry. Many men and women turn to prostitution in order to support drug dependencies (DARA). This is used as leverage by many traffickers as a way to obtain workers.

            Next is drug abuse to acquire control. Many traffickers will force drug use as a means of control over the victim so that they do what they want.  “In some cases, a prostitute will be forced by a pimp or other person to take drugs to ensure that they do as they are told... This is particularly true in the case of young people and children” (DARA). Sadly, children are forced to take drugs or drink alcohol, to have sex or to perform sexual acts without consent as well (DARA). “Drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are commonly used to make a person become an addict and force them to do the work the traffickers want them to do” (DARA). In many cases the drug abuse that is formed through the control of their enforcers it eventually will become a way to finance their drug addiction (DARA). A drug abuse that may have never existed before this now is an addiction that binds them to their exploitation.

            Lastly, using drugs as a method of coping is also very common. “Drug use may be a consequence of human trafficking, and drugs may be taken to numb themselves, deal with the reality of their life, and as a way to be able to continue to do the degrading and often violent work” (DARA). In addition, some victims may develop a chemical use problem or dependence in the aftermath of being trafficked in an effort to reduce their experience of posttraumatic emotional distress (MNHTTF). This is an issue that needs to be addressed with more, but more on that later!

            It is obvious to see how drugs and human trafficking are interconnected and influence each other. As the drug industry increases it is fair to say that so does human trafficking. This problem can be overwhelming and intimidating by the task at hand. Not only is the war on human trafficking being fought, but now we must fight the war on drugs. Who is to say that the numbers won’t change as one is reduced? I encourage you all to look at my resources for this week. They provided necessary enlightenment.