Teenage years are some of the biggest years for your overall development as a person. The scary part of that is that over 90% of teens say they’ve experienced peer pressure, and 28% say their social status was boosted because they gave in. This means that your peers have a lot of influence over this period in your life.
However, peer pressure isn’t just for teens, contrary to what you hear. Anybody can experience peer pressure, and peer pressure in addiction can have serious consequences. Let’s talk about that.
What Is Peer Pressure
We’ve all heard of peer pressure, so let’s define it briefly to make sure we’re on the same page. The pressure we receive from our peers can be constructive or destructive to our lives, especially when it comes to substance abuse.
We receive plenty of pressure from our peers to do new things all the time, without even realizing it. That’s how industries like fashion stay afloat. They rely on selling new clothes and new apparel all the time, and they need people to start wearing what’s “in” if they want to maximize their sales.
While that’s one example, there are many others. Our peers have enormous influence over us, and for good biological reasons. Humans are meant to rely on our peers, our communities, or our tribes.
Positive Peer Pressure
You may go with your friend to the beach and see a rocking set of abs and ask them about it. They might tell you how much they go to the gym and the type of diet regimen they follow. Maybe they invite you to the gym, and you start working out with them regularly.
That would be an example of positive peer pressure. If your friend says he’s quitting smoking and going to run a marathon and asks you to train with him, then that’s the kind of friend you want in your life. If you’re in recovery, exercise is the key to success!
Friends can pressure you in the right direction, they can support you through challenges in your life, and they can lead by example. If they have goals, make you want to improve yourself, and abstain from drugs, this is a perfect example of a friend who uses positive peer pressure.
Negative Peer Pressure
Because of this, your peers have a unique ability to influence you when it comes to the substances you use. This could be smoking cigarettes, vaping, drinking, or drugs.
If you hang out with the same people all the time, that’s your main circle of influence. They say that you are the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Because of this, if one of them tells you to shoplift with them, assures you that you won’t get caught, and tells you all about their fun experiences with shoplifting, you may feel compelled to join them.
That’s true even if you’ve never considered yourself to be someone who steals. The pressure can be that intense.
If that friend then swears to you that popping these pills or smoking this substance will make you feel great, you may feel inclined to try it. The same applies if you’ve already quit a substance and a good friend tries to tell you that you “need it.”
All of these are prime examples of negative peer pressure and, even if you think they’re your best friend, you should do your best to avoid them.
The Dangers Of Peer Pressure In Addiction
Like we said, a friend can influence you to start using a substance you wouldn’t have otherwise used. You may think that you wouldn’t use one no matter who offered it to you. However, peers can be very convincing.
Trying New Substances
If you spend most of your time with a small group of friends, they influence you whether you like it or not. Have they ever called you derogatory names when you refused to do something? Even jokingly? Something like: “Stop being a —–“
The next question is: Did you change your mind after that? Even on something small.
Do you see how that can be applied elsewhere? Maybe it starts with “Let’s smoke pot after school” and turns into “My mom had these pills, and they make you feel great. Try one.” From there, it gets dangerous and can lead to you being addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This is critical to understand in your early years. In fact, about 40% of teens who start drinking by 13 will become alcoholics, compared to roughly 10% of those who start at 17.
They cannot only convince you to try a substance in the first place, but the real harm also comes on the road to recovery. It is critical to anybody’s path to sobriety that they avoid the people they associate with substance abuse.
If you go right back to that same circle of friends, they pose a serious risk to your path to sobriety. It’s almost impossible to stay sober when you’re surrounded by active users or the people who got you into these habits in the first place.
There are many other forms of negative peer pressure. Other risky behaviors to watch out for include:
- Getting into a car with an intoxicated driver increases your risk of death exponentially
- Engaging in unsafe sexual activities can lead to unplanned pregnancies or the spreading of diseases like HIV
- Committing a crime while under the influence puts you and others at risk
- Getting into fights puts you, your friends, and others in physical danger
Remember, this is your one life. If you make excuses for the person who is pressuring you negatively and choose to stick by their side, you’re only hurting yourself and enabling their behavior.
Don’t Let This Happen
There are many risks when it comes to peer pressure in addiction, and the responsibility falls on you to recognize when a behavior is wrong and choose to abstain from the activity.
Who you choose to spend your time with will have an enormous impact on the rest of your life, so choose wisely. Stay safe, stay strong, and keep up to date with our latest news for recovery, safety, and general health. Check out everything you need to know about 12 step programs if you aren’t already in one!
Change Your Life With Healthy Life Recovery
Get in touch with Healthy Life Recovery today to talk about addiction recovery options for you or your loved ones! They have tools to help you recover your mind, body, and soul. Healthy Life Recovery is a drug and alcohol rehab in San Diego, CA. You can also reach out for 24-hour support or call (858) 888-5332.