The Dangers of Peer Pressure

teen alcohol and drug abuse

The transition from the teenage years to adulthood is hallmarked for being the time for finding out who you “really” are, experimentation, and risky behavior. There could be various reasons why a teenager or young adult gives into the pressure pushed on them by their peers, but it can have damaging consequences. Peer pressure can lead a teen to engage in activities that they witness adults doing or their peers have normalized, such as drugs and alcohol. Why do teens cave into peer pressure?

They are curious. Teens that have never been drunk or high, especially those that see others around them doing it, will have an increased curiosity about what it might feel like.

They want to feel included. The teenage years can be those of confusion and sometimes even loneliness. Teens may see partaking in drugs and alcohol as a false-sense of inclusivity.

They want to be defiant. Teens often want to lash out, but do not have the coping skills to effectively communicate. This is why they often engage in destructive behaviors in order to break the rules.

 The Facts About Peer Pressure

 Who you surround yourself with is important. Your friends are considered your peers. Teenagers have the freedom of choosing their own friends. You may not even realize it is happening, but you and your friends influence each others’ behaviors and decisions. As you get older, your friends will start to play larger roles in your life. While there is a lot of benefits of having a close group of peers, there is also a flip-side. Most negative peer pressure is not as obvious as you may think.

This pressure to conform can be very subtle. For instance, your friends may all decide to walk a different way home. You tag along because you do every day. Then, they all stop and begin doing drugs. The level of trust the friends have built up is now falsely being tested and the person that is not conforming can sense this tension in their friendship. The teen may think, “If they are all doing it, then it must be okay?”.

Even if you think you have the best friend group there is and nothing negative will ever strike, you are wrong. Almost every single friend group will encounter a sticky situation involving peer pressure. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for when the situation arises and stick to your decision to not fall victim to peer pressure. You are your own self, so set your values and morals accordingly. If something arises that will go against your values or morals, have no issue saying, “no” to it.

Tips For Managing Peer Pressure

If you or someone you know is suffering from peer pressure or the damaging effects, consider seeking help. This could be in the form of treatment or a recovery group. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers treatment options for those as young as 18 years old. Do not be afraid to call in if you are a loved one of someone struggling, the Recovery Center will help you receive guidance. Here are some tips for how to manage peer pressure, for both teens and parents or loved ones.

If you are a teenager, consider these methods when dealing with negative peer pressure.

  • Listen to your gut. If something feels bad, then it is bad.
  • Avoid peers that are engaging in damaging behavior or may lead you down a bad path.
  • Hang around friends that are positive influences. These will be peers that help you say, “no” to bad situations.
  • Develop a code word with your parents in case things take a turn. This makes it so you can call your parents to come get you from a situation, but your friends will not know it is because of them.

If you are a parent or loved one, consider these tips to help a teen manage negative peer pressure.

Allow the teen to be honest with you and encourage this communication. Tell them that if they are feeling any risky behavior or are angry about something, that they can come to you and you will formulate a solution with them to help.

Inform your teen about the damaging consequences of peer pressure and how important it is to be able to say, “no”. This assertiveness is not a sign of weakness. Last but not least, keep communication lines open with the teen. Allow them to call you if they were ever in a situation that turned sour.

The Parental Influence

During development, even well into the teenage years, children look up to their parents. Parents are a child’s primary role model and they form the environment the child will grow up in, whether positive or negative. Negative pressure can even come from parents, either knowingly or unknowingly. An environment that may be harmful to the teen may be normalized by the behavior and actions of the parent.

A child often learns by observation. So, if they are watching their parents live an unhealthy lifestyle, they will tend to mimic those behaviors. A child looks up to their parent and may want to have the approval of their parent. They may think that engaging in behaviors similar to their parents will grant that approval.

Different parenting styles may also play a factor. There is evidence that suggests parents may influence adolescents based on their style of parenting. There is considered to be four different types of parenting styles. These are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. Authoritative, which exhibits warmth but also maintains control, is thought to be the best style. Studies have shown that parents who are authoritative have children that have limited delinquent behavior, high academic success, and positive relationships.

There has also been a study conducted that suggests that authoritative parents can also affect their teen’s peers. A teen whose friend has an authoritative parent is less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol. Therefore, your parenting style will also indirectly affect the friends of your teen. Similarly, the parents of your teen’s friends will be influencing them as well.

Negative peer pressure is an important conversation to have for both teens and parents, as it can have very damaging effects. If you or someone you love is suffering from substance or alcohol abuse, seek help immediately. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is a unique treatment facility that bases their programs on the needs of the individual and serves those as young as 18. Call today to start the road to recovery!