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Connecting the Dots: The Links Between Substance Use and Human Trafficking
April 21 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Presenter: Marina Anderson, Regional Human Trafficking Coordinator, Northeast and Northwest Regions, Florida Department of Children and Families
One of the most effective and influential techniques that human traffickers use to coerce, manipulate, and exploit their victims – both youth and adults – is with drugs and alcohol. This presentation will provide an overview of factors that link human trafficking tactics of control to substances and how communities can know more to respond safely and effectively.
Traffickers commonly use substances to prey on a person’s vulnerabilities and recruit them into labor and sex trafficking. They may introduce them to drugs and alcohol or target individuals with existing substance use disorders to lure and recruit them into a trafficking situation. The trafficker can more easily control the victim once they are addicted and keep the victim in a trafficking situation. Substances are used as rewards or punishments, and to decrease the victim’s ability to resist trafficking and other abuses. Victims may also use substances as a coping mechanism both during and after being trafficked, in response to trauma.
Human traffickers are highly skilled manipulators that target a person’s vulnerability. A person with a substance use disorder is in one of the most vulnerable categories of trafficked persons. Someone who has an addiction may be seeking ways to support their drug habit or dependence and traffickers are actively searching for people with these vulnerabilities to exploit. Traffickers use substances as a means of coercion, to get victims to obey their demands, work longer hours, comply to their rules, decrease attempts to leave their abusive situation, and keep them in the life. Many victims also use substances as a means of coping with past or current trauma. Furthermore, victims often engage in forced criminality, a form of labor trafficking, as their traffickers require them to participate in criminal activities.
This topic has a wide reach and this webinar will be helpful to anyone who has contact with adults or minors who are trafficked or who are at risk including the justice system (law enforcement, prosecution, advocates, judges and judicial staff), child welfare, non-profits and advocates, human resource professionals, healthcare, businesses, the faith community, students and education professionals and staff, substance use disorder programs, and the many in the community at-large.
Additional links from the presentation: