Resisting Peer Pressure
Confidence is something that we all struggle to come by, but young people struggle most of all. Even when you’re confident in the fact you want to say no to drugs and alcohol, it can be so difficult to go through with it in the face of your friends – who all said yes. Sometimes, in the right group of people, a simple “no, that’s okay” is enough for the matter to be dropped. In other groups, it’s not enough, and the demand to explain yourself can be too much to handle. Rather than continue to resist drugs and alcohol, you may end up giving in and trying something that you didn’t want to try, but felt that you had to.
Why Addiction Occurs In Teenagers
Teenagers are impressionable. That’s the long and short of it. They want to fit in and copy their friends, and they want to be accepted. Teenagers don’t really get the impacts of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder treatment. They don’t understand the mental health issues behind addiction or how they can tell whether they have one themselves. They just want to be like their friends and fit in, but it’s this vulnerability that can lead to a downward spiral of long term addiction and mental health issues that can be very difficult to come back from
Bad Outcomes: Avoiding The Pressure
Youths find it hard to say no, wanting to impress and be a part of the gang. They fear rejection by their peers and being cast out. Those who do manage to say no end up in the situation where they are watching their friends dabble in drink and drugs, and they don’t know how to walk away from that.
With the below tips, you can avoid the peer pressure from your friends and start to move toward a life of freedom and individuality, and away from addiction and vulnerability.
Parents and mentors in an educational setting need to educate teenagers as much as possible on what to expect. Not every teenager will encounter peer pressure, but it’s still important to make them aware. Talk openly about alcohol and drugs, their legality, their consequences. Talk about how they can be true to what they want and say no to those who don’t support that. Talk about toxicity and how it can ruin their young life.
Teenagers need positive reinforcement as much as they need exposure to consequences. Teenagers have the right to say no, and they can do it assertively without being angry and defensive. Teach them how to use their strength and look at their peers in the eye while they do it. Explain to the teenagers you are looking after that they can say no and even if people walk away from them, even if their friends laugh at them, even if they wobble in their decision – they are strong.
Adults live with peer pressure every day, and the way to help your teenagers is to identify a time in your adult life where you have been pressured and relate their problem to you. Talk about why people do drugs and drink heavily. Compare their options – do they want a sober future or do they want to start researching treatment centres?
Model the healthy behaviour that you want to see in your teenagers. You may have a glass of wine a week, and that’s legal and balanced. Model balanced behaviour and reinforce with demonstration why they should resist peer pressure, and keep that line of communication open.