Peer Pressure and Drug Abuse: Learn When to Say No to Addiction
You and your friends are sitting around one night, talking about nothing and everything when the topic of marijuana comes up.
Your friend says he’s going to get some, and you should go with him. You’re not sure about trying it, but you’re afraid of being left out.
You eventually get it or go to your friend’s house only to be pressured into smoking a few hits.
Peer pressure is everywhere and can lead you down many dark roads.
This guide will teach you how to keep yourself out of the lures of peer pressure, how to say no if someone is pressuring you into doing something that is not right for you, and how to tell a friend that their behavior is not cool when they are pressuring you or another friend into doing something they really don’t want to do.
You Need to Know Your Friends Well
For most, the first exposure to illicit drugs happens in a familiar setting among friends.
According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, young people are affected more by substance abuse than any other age group. In fact, teens who have friends that drink are six times more likely to consume alcohol themselves.
Your peers’ perceptions of the risk or potential harm of a drug have shown to be far more influential as a teenager than the perceptions of your parent. The people teenagers decide to spend their time with have a profound effect on the decisions they will make regarding drugs and alcohol.
Close friends hold more sway over your decision-making than mere acquaintances. Helping you say no starts with your friends. Know them well and talk about drugs and alcohol before your group is exposed.
In the end, peer pressure can be positive or negative and this fact is determined by what friends you chose.
You’re More Likely to Take Risks with Friends
If you know your friends are watching, you are far more likely to make risky decisions. Peer pressure isn’t only about verbal pressure.
A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that even when teens weren’t verbally encouraged to partake in risky behavior, they did so anyway due to the presence of friends.
Knowing your friend’s reaction will trigger the reward centers of the brain and changes your decision-making without any verbal pressure in the mix.
This all plays into drugs and alcohol as well. Some bend to saying yes to drugs and alcohol because they believe it will impress those close to them. The people you chose to become close to have a profound influence on your decision making.
Have A Plan
Peer pressure comes in 3 basic forms:
- Environmental norms: people feel pressured to be like the basic beliefs and behaviors of their peer group. For instance, everyone in your group goes out for a smoke break. You’ll feel the pressure to join them and not be left out even though there was no overt pressure for you to start smoking.
- Direct pressure: This is the most recognizable form of peer pressure. Friends and/or family urge a person to do something.
- Indirect pressure: We’re drawn to people who share habits. We mold ourselves to our friends and vice-versa.
Since what is influencing your decisions can come in many forms, you need to prepare yourself accordingly.
Learn about boundaries. Personal boundaries are what’s called the edge of your ‘self’ and delineate the limits of your comfort zone.
Boundaries are about self-care and defining who you are and what you need. Learning to create boundaries helps you establish yourself and then hold fast against that pull of peer pressure.
Peer pressure is all a worry about judgment; what they will think of you if you resist the established ‘norm’. Understanding what your needs are and how to be a good ‘self’ allows you more power to risk rejection.
Find a Way to Say No
Have a plan on how you’ll say no when faced with this pressure.
You’ll likely feel shaky, and your resolve will start to crumble, but saying a firm no and maintaining eye contact is a powerful tool.
Think about adding your why:
- I value my health too much
- I don’t want to ruin my life
- I don’t use anymore, please respect that
- I can’t risk the consequences if I’m caught
If It’s Too Hard, Get Out
You have the right to leave any situation with no questions asked.
Temptations are real especially when they involve family and friends. While some of the temptations are yours, other times someone might be pressuring you to drop your resolve and join them.
Your long-term health and your life are more important than pleasing a friend or family member.
Know When to Ask for Help
If saying ‘no’ or ‘never again’ are proving difficult don’t hesitate to ask for help here or with trusted family and friends.
There is power behind knowing oneself, having our feelings heard, and having strong self-esteem. If you struggle with these things, ask for help.
Knowing you have help and support behind you gives you an incredible resistance to peer pressure.
Peers are a very powerful influence on your life. Learn the techniques to avoid peer pressure or find new friends.
Peer pressure is not something that can be easily resisted, but there are ways to get out of it or, at the very least, make a conscious decision regarding whether it’s something you want to take part in.
If your friends ever ask you again whether you want to smoke weed with them, just remember: You don’t need to say yes. And if drugs become a problem for you in the future, I hope that you’ll feel empowered enough to speak up and ask for help.
If your friends are getting high every weekend, start looking into ways that you can get more involved with some of your hobbies—the ones that don’t involve drugs. And if they pressure you too much, tell them that you’re going to make plans with other people instead. None of us are perfect, but we can still make healthy choices in our everyday lives.