“Human trafficking” is the subject of a new Government initiative that aims to increase awareness of the problem and how disasters (like floods and earthquakes) can increase the risks for it. We’re mentioning human trafficking on the Drugs & Health Blog because it’s an important issue that’s connected to drug trafficking.

What is human trafficking?

  • It’s modern-day slavery, where people are forced to work or provide services, like a servant or prostitute. Often these people are “trafficked” (moved or transported) to another country first.
  • The “trafficked” people may receive only what’s necessary to live (food, water, shelter) while the money earned by their work goes to the “traffickers” who control them.
  • Human trafficking is a serious crime, and many countries are working together to reduce it.

What are the signs of human trafficking?

  • A person being trafficked may have unusual injuries or an illness that can’t be explained.
  • They may not be able to talk to someone without a third person being present—so the trafficked person can’t speak openly and honestly about what’s happening to them.
  • They can’t choose where they live, and someone else keeps their identification cards, passport, visas, etc.

Human trafficking and drugs—what’s the connection?

  • Trafficking of illegal drugs and human trafficking often happen together. Drug traffickers may also be transporting people as another source of money.
  • Human traffickers may also force their victims to smuggle drugs across borders.
  • Human traffickers can use drugs as “bait” to recruit people who have a substance use disorder. Or they can use drugs to force a victim to obey their orders, or work harder or for longer hours.

Why can human trafficking increase when a natural disaster happens?

  • People who survive a disaster may lose their homes, their possessions, or their jobs, and be vulnerable to disease or starvation. Traffickers may take advantage of these people’s desperation by promising them food and shelter, or they may simply force or threaten these vulnerable people into trafficking.

If you think someone may be a victim of human trafficking, call and/or encourage them to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 for help, resources, and information.


In the Detroit area please contact the DWIHN 24-hour crisis line at (800) 241-4949


In the Detroit area please contact the DWIHN 24-hour crisis line at (800) 241-4949