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Drug Addiction and Sex Trafficking (Links)

Posted: October 15, 2020 by in Hope Recovery Addiction Center

Unfortunately, sex trafficking and drug addiction are connected. People who have become addicted to drugs are more vulnerable to being used in human trafficking. It is a horrible ordeal in which traffickers use drugs to compel their victims to engage in commercial sex. Withdrawal symptoms become a source of leverage. But there are signs of human sex trafficking that you can be aware of. Whether in your day-to-day life, if you are a healthcare worker, or if you work in the hotel industry, there are ways to recognize a human trafficking situation. If you believe you might be aware of such a case, contact authorities immediately.  

However, if you have a loved one addicted to drugs and are scared of the repercussions, call us today at 918-779-0011. We understand there are many risks when it comes to drug addiction. We want to help prevent any of those before they occur. Call us today, and we can help your loved one find the right treatment center and therapies. The road back to a sober lifestyle is closer than you might believe.   


Do drug addiction and sex trafficking connect? Read more below to find out. If you require further information please reach out to our specialists. We are here to help you.

  • Understanding Human Sex Trafficking 
  • Sex Trafficking and Drug Addiction 
  • Statistics on Potential Victims  
  • How to Recognize a Human Trafficking Situation 
  • Signs Health Care Providers Should Be Aware Of 
  • Human Trafficking through Hotels   

Marijuana Addiction and the Best Treatment

Understanding Human Sex Trafficking  

First, it is essential to understand what human trafficking is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sex trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for a commercial sex act.”  

Human trafficking makes victims of both adults and minors. Any commercial sexual activity with children qualifies as trafficking, while for adults, the term entails the use of force or leverage, sometimes coercion or fraud. Whatever the method, it involves compelling individuals to engage in commercial sexual activity, thus amounts to a form of slavery. There are very few legal exceptions made when it comes to this horrible system. Taking advantage of another human being in this way is punishable by a potential life sentence in prison.  

drug addiction

Sex Trafficking and Drug Addiction 

Sex trafficking and drug addiction are intertwined because traffickers often target vulnerable people addicted to a substance. Drugs become a form of coercion or leverage. According to the 2017 Federal Human Trafficking Report, “traffickers supply a victim with addictive substances and use the victim’s fear of withdrawal symptoms to compel them to engage in commercial sex.” 

By using withdrawal symptoms as leverage, traffickers can easily frighten, manipulate, and control their victims. From the sex trafficking cases reviewed in 2017, about 34% involved vulnerable drug addicts used in sex trafficking with their captors using drugs to maintain power. This is a reality that most people are unaware of.   

 The Reality of Human Trafficking and Drug Abuse 

Dr. Hanni Stoklosa spoke to the Health and Human Services task force in 2016 about preventing and ending human trafficking. Her speech is transcribed in an article from the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In its course, she remarked on a situation she observed when it came to vulnerable drug addicts used in sex trafficking. Specifically, she talked about a woman who was 20 years old who entered her emergency facility.  

In addition, she said the woman was “hooked on heroin and was being discharged from a detox facility when she met a man who promised to provide a consistent supply of heroin. She was locked in a motel room in Rhode Island, forced to service over 200 men. When she finally escaped, her first stop was my emergency department. She came to my hospital to escape trafficking.”  

Dr. Stoklosa believes that more than 50% of trafficking victims are just like this woman hooked on heroin. The use of opioids to control sex trafficking victims is widespread. If you or a loved one are addicted to an opioid, if you have a child who you are concerned might be misusing their prescription opioid, call us today to help determine the best course of action because this addiction leads down an incredibly dangerous road. 

Statistics on Potential Victims 

The Polaris Project, formed in 2002, is a non-government, non-profit organization that has been working to prevent human trafficking. The project collects data from sex trafficking hotlines and can determine patterns, potential threats, and statistics surrounding drug abuse and human trafficking.  

According to their statistics,  

  • From January 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017, Polaris recorded 2,238 potential victims of human trafficking who had drug use induced or exploited as a means of control in their trafficking situation.   
  • In the same time frame, Polaris recorded 926 potential victims of human trafficking who had a substance abuse issue before the possible trafficking, many of whom had this vulnerability exploited by their traffickers. Twenty-six of those were recruited into their trafficking situation directly from drug rehabilitation centers.   

Of more than 2200 potential victims recorded during this period, 543 of them were minors. Their captors used their drug problems against them. Meanwhile, over 1800 of the potential victims were women, both adult, and underage. It is important to note that these statistics only come from people who have called hotlines or explained their hospitals’ situations.  

It is crucial to know the risks and connections between human trafficking and drug abuse to understand how to protect yourself, your family, and others. There are warning signs that can point to a potential human trafficking situation. Knowing these warning signs can be vital for you and your family.    

How to Recognize a Human Trafficking Situation  

There are ways you can recognize a potential human trafficking situation in your day-to-day life. Drug abuse and human trafficking throw up red flags that someone who is paying attention can spot through observation or conversation.  

According to an article called “Recognizing Sex Trafficking” from the Polaris Project, for instance, someone may be a victim of sex trafficking if they:  

  • Want to stop participating in selling or trading sex but feel scared or unable to leave.  
  • Disclose that they were reluctant to engage in selling sex but that someone pressured them into it.  
  • Live where they work or have guards transport them between home and workplace.  
  • They are children who live with or depend on a family member with a substance abuse problem.  
  • Have a pimp or manager in the sex trade. This is a person they consistently report to.   
  • Work in an industry where they may feel pressure to perform sex acts for money, such as a strip club, illicit cantina, go-go bar, or illegal business massage.  
  • Have an older or controlling parent, guardian, romantic partner, or “sponsor” who will not allow you to meet or speak with the person alone or monitors their movements, spending, and communications.  

If you know anyone who has shown any of these warning signs, call authorities immediately. It is better to be cautious and aware of these potential situations then ignore them. Furthermore, if you know someone addicted to cocaine, heroin, or any illegal substance, they could be at risk of exploitation. Addiction is a powerful disease that can overtake someone’s judgment, decision making, and behaviors. Call us before it gets too severe. We can help your loved one, family member, or friend get the treatment and therapies they need to heal.  

Signs Health Care Providers Should Be Aware Of  

Health care providers come into contact with sex trafficking victims more than they realize. Most of the time, they seek treatment for their drug addiction, PTSD, or depression due to the horrific experience they went through. But they don’t always tell medical professionals that part of the story. Sometimes the victims in question are still under their traffickers’ control at the time. This means health care providers are in a unique position to be aware of the symptoms and signals of potential sex trafficking victims.  

According to the article “Recognizing Sex Trafficking,” a health care provider might notice a patient with:  

  • Reproductive or sexual health concerns and potential signs of sexual violence while reporting an unusually high number of partners. 
  • Work-related injuries reporting that health and safety gear were unavailable or conditions were otherwise unsafe.  
  • Apparent fear of answering questions about the injury or illness.  
  • An accompanying individual who does not let the patient speak for themselves refuses to let the patient have privacy or interprets them.  

Moreover, the biggest red flag is the patient accompanied by a person who doesn’t let them speak or be alone. If the individual becomes hostile after you insist the patient needs privacy, you might have come across a human trafficking situation. And if you are a health care provider, then it is vital to be conscious of these suspicious situations. This way, you are in a better position to provide help if needed.  

Human Trafficking Through Hotels   

The exploitation of sex trafficking and drug addiction victims often takes place in hotels and motels. They are everywhere, and they provide a single room to keep someone captive. It is a grim reality. However, the hope is that employees who work in the hotel industry are aware of this possibility.  

According to the article “Recognizing Sex Trafficking,” indicators of sex and human trafficking, for example, in this setting are:  

  • Presence of a third party (pimp/trafficker) appearing to be monitoring a hallway or door.  
  • Guest is overly concerned with surveillance cameras or entrance policies.   
  • Someone comes by and visits for 30 minutes to an hour. Also, someone waits for that person on the property or in the parking lot.   

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to sex trafficking and drug addiction. Everyone must be aware of the dangers of drug abuse and human trafficking to prevent it from occurring. Likewise, it avoids a great deal of trouble confronting addiction as soon as possible, before it is put against an individual. If your loved one, family member, or friend is struggling with addiction, call us today. We can help you meet the habit where it stands and stop it from developing into anything worse.  

Written by Julia Bashaw 


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