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December 15, 2022

The Intersection of Human Trafficking and Substance Use Disorder

Human trafficking (HT) and substance use disorders (SUD) are public health and safety crises that impact state, local, and tribal communities. Though seemingly disconnected, these issues often overlap in the lives of impacted people and in the systems that respond to them. For example, victims and survivors of HT often have co-occurring SUDs. Studies have found that up to 85 percent of trafficking survivors report an SUD (Lederer and Wetzel, 2014). Traffickers use illicit substances both as a means of recruiting potential new victims and as a tool to control and maintain current victims.

Given this overlap, government agencies and service providers who engage with people with SUDs are highly likely to encounter HT victims and survivors. However, many providers either do not have the training to identify and respond to victims of trafficking or do not feel qualified to treat these individuals. Myths and misconceptions about HT compound these barriers to providing high-quality care to this population.

COSSAP grantees are uniquely situated to identify and respond to the needs of victims and survivors of HT; therefore, this practitioner-focused webinar will introduce key topics such as definitions of HT, the connection between SUD and HT, and victim identification and will focus on equipping grantees with practical skills and tools to support victims.

During this webinar, the presenters:

  • Discussed how human trafficking and substance use disorders intersect.
  • Identified common misconceptions and myths about human trafficking and survivors.
  • Highlighted practices for supporting human trafficking survivors at COSSAP grantee sites.


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