It can seem like harmless fun when a friend dares you to do something silly. Maybe they are just trying to coax you into going to that movie or concert. You may not want to give in to their pleas and demands, but ultimately, you do not want them to think less of you. Peer pressure can be a normal part of life for most people regardless of age, and when it comes to pleasing your friends, it can be very hard to say no.

Dealing with Peer Pressure and Drugs

Things get difficult when young adults are using drugs or alcohol. When a friend is using and you do not want to, what do you do?  When a friend approaches you, the urge to abstain starts to fight the urge to be loyal. There is a misperception that you need to “be a good friend.” Whatever the case may be, everyone needs some helpful and meaningful steps to avoid the snares of peer pressure. You want to prevent decisions that will cause harm to everyone. The question becomes, “How do I confront a friend with an alcohol or drug addiction problem?

Here are some helpful tips to help to deal with peer pressure:

  • The Line “Everyone Is Doing It” Is a Myth: The sheer fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people are not using and abusing illegal drugs nor are they constantly incapacitated with drunkenness. Quite simply, our world would not function at all if that were even remotely plausible. So, when a friend says that “everyone is doing it” imagine that they are just as ill-informed about using what they are offering you as they are about that statement.
  • Think About the Consequences: Imagine the results of saying yes and giving in. In today’s world, it is incredibly easy to research and see the results of those decisions for other people. You can even share with friends trying to pressure you what you find about the damaging results of drug abuse and alcoholism.
  • Avoid Obvious Risks of Peer Pressure: If you know your friends are using drugs or alcohol and are likely to get you involved as well, simply avoid hanging out with them in situations that would make you vulnerable to pressure. Some obvious spots might be at a party, or at a friend’s house where no adults are present.
  • Always Have an Escape Plan: If you have the ability to drive, tell your friends that you will meet them wherever you have planned to go. Particularly if you think they will be under the influence or using drugs, you do not want to be in the car with them. If that is not an option, call your parents or a trusted adult to come and get you. In fact, it is not a bad idea to have them standing by waiting for your call.
  • Be a Leader and Stand Up for What You Believe: Do not underestimate your own ability to influence those around you. You can have just as powerful of a voice with them. Especially if they are truly your friends, they will respect your opinions as well. Use your influence for good. Imagine the harm that your friends are causing for themselves and stand up to them for them.

Know That Peer Pressure is Control

Why do you always have to do what they want to do? You have good ideas for fun things to do, too. Try and initiate your own activities. That will give you more control over where you are going and how you are spending time together. Besides, offering fun ideas to do things may be just the thing your friends or peers needed to escape the temptation for abuse themselves. Many bad decisions, especially for young people, are bred out of boredom and a lack of good options for passing the time. Take the time to come up with good options and fun ideas that you and your friends can enjoy.

Peer pressure is not easy, but there are options! Remember that avoiding peer pressure is not just about you. The decision to say no and be an example of resolve may be exactly what your friends needed to see in order to make wise decisions for themselves. You are not just saving your own life, but potentially the lives of those you love and those closest to you.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or are looking for more advice on how to overcome peer pressure, contact our addiction treatment center in New Jersey on our 24-hour helpline, no matter where you are.