The belief that only youngsters in their teen years will use drugs not to feel left out in social settings is an approachable concept. However, reality has a different plan.
Peer pressure can damage one’s self-esteem in both ways. It might mean that a teen does not use drugs so that he/she can fit in with their social groups. On the other hand, peer pressure can make some people feel obliged to use a drug at a specific time.
Generally speaking, peer pressure is when someone encourages/forces you to try something new. Initially, you could have said no, but that person is constantly giving you reasons why you should give it a shot. Peer pressure can be used to experiment with alcohol or drugs to fit in. Still, positive peer pressure can lead to a beautiful beginning.
So you get the picture? Peer pressure, when applied by the wrong people, is a definite road to addiction. But if you’re lucky enough to have inspiring peers, things may take a positive turn.
But since our topic is mainly based on the negative aspects of peer pressure, such as addition, let’s stick to that!
A Fact: whether it’s exercise or drug use, peer pressure encourages teens to alter their behaviors – and not in a good way!
Let’s dive deeper into the destroyer of teenage life – peer pressure.
Peer Pressure in Teens
The majority of people envision a group of troublemakers egging one another due to peer pressure. They assume that an individual is forced to take drugs and drink by a group of friends, but the situation isn’t always predictable.
It could be that a group of teens is sharing their plans for the weekend, with half of them saying they have a party to attend and are going to do a lot of drinking.
When one person says they’d rather stay home and study, the rest of the group will roll their eyes or start whispering among themselves. The poor student who was planning to improve his grades may feel pressured to go to the party just to prove to his friends that he’s not a bookworm.
Or it could be that others laugh when one teen refuses to do drugs or drink at a party. This person may feel embarrassed and gulp-up the drink in one breath, even if he/she doesn’t want it.
Peer Pressure & Addiction in Teens
Peer pressure can often become the enemy. It causes kids to do things they would never do otherwise with the hope of being noticed. Above all, this can include experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
Beyond encouraging teens to use drugs, this desire to amaze their peers can override a teenager’s anxiety of taking risks. This risky business with drugs/alcohol can result in the following incidents:
- Drug or alcohol poisoning
- Driving under the submission of alcohol or drugs
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Is Peer Pressure Wicked?
Let’s get real; peer pressure can be either a negative or positive influence that a group of peers has on another individual. Fundamentally, these are the types of peer pressure.
Positive Peer Pressure
Peer pressure could influence an ambitious person to join sports. This involvement could be useful, leading to role models and healthy lifestyles, and eventually turning the young person into a positive role model him/herself.
Negative Peer Pressure
A similar form of peer burden could lead a person to over-categorize with sports, putting competition and exercise above all else.
In extreme cases, she/he may develop an addiction, causing him/her to neglect social activities and schoolwork, and ultimately, use competition and exercise in sports as his/her’s primary coping mechanism. This can also lead to unadorned health consequences.
Some Examples of Peer Pressure
Positive Peer Pressure
- All of your friends work hard, exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and all of this makes you want to become a better person as well. Therefore, you start to prioritize your health as well.
- Your friends abstain from alcohol and drugs because they want to live a sober life. You avoid addictive substances as well because you admire their courage.
- You have a best friend that loves to make to-do lists to stay productive throughout the day and achieves every one of her goals. This makes you want to set your own goals and start making lists of all the things you want to become and achieve.
Negative Peer Pressure
- All of your mates skip class, and you’re afraid they’ll call you a narc, so you bunk too.
- Your friends are drug addicts. So you decide to steal your parents’ prescription medicine from home so you can become like your friends.
- Your coworkers find it dorky for you to pack a lunch, so you let go of this habit by spending lots of money eating outside.
The Presence of Social Media
Social media seems to be a big part of our lives, and so, it plays a critical role in bullying and peer pressure nowadays. Sadly, there’s no escape from bullying and intimidation anymore because the taunts aren’t limited to school hours only – they haunt you everywhere.
It is now possible for individuals to post indirect tweets or comments that can have a life-shrinking effect on a teenager and how she/he views substance use.
With social media having extensive ties, teenagers from a neighboring school can take part in bullying and become why another person uses a substance.
Peer Pressure & The Brain
Peer pressure can blur teens’ choices about many things. The latest research proves that, when sticking to a decision or taking a big step, teens think about both the rewards and risks of their behaviors and actions – but, unlike adults, they are more likely to discard the risk because they favor the prize.
Based on NIDA-funded research, teenagers driving with their friends were more likely to take risks – such as speeding – if they knew that some of their friends were watching. Teens mostly do such things to look cool, which is absurd.
For more in-depth knowledge, the researchers monitored the brain activity of all teen drivers. Results demonstrated that just knowing friends looked at activated brain sections linked to reward, mainly when the drivers made dicey decisions.
How To Switch-off Peer Pressure for Good
The following strategies are essential and helpful for handling peer pressure effortlessly:
1. Get a hold of yourself
Say no to the activities you are not comfortable with is a great way to resist peer pressure. Therefore, practice what you will say if you’re pressured into doing something you don’t want.
For instance, before hanging out with your friends, you may want to practice what you might say if someone offers you a cigarette. Don’t just say “no,” say something that will affect others as well. Something like “that thing kills” will be helpful.
In extreme cases, saying no may lead you to an unsafe situation. It is better to communicate with a trusted adult or parent who can remove you from a dangerous setting in such cases.
2. Choose the right mates
Peer influence during the teen years is strong; therefore, it is vital to make good friends. As said previously, peer pressure can be good, so having the right team of troops can help you make healthy decisions.
For instance, picking friends who prioritize school and contribute to positive activities such as church groups and sports can limit your contact with negative peer pressure. Additionally, mates who support your norms and values can become your shadow and stick up for you when everyone else is picking on you.
3. Understand yourself
When inclined with peer pressure to ignite risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex or using drugs, it is vital to remember your values.
For example, maybe becoming valedictorian and earning high grades to get into the most prestigious college means the world to you. Or, perhaps you want to set a good example for your siblings by doing good deeds and staying on the right path.
In every do-or-die situation, remembering your values can increase your confidence and help you press the right buzzer. They will make you realize that there is more to life than just messing around and playing with other peoples’ feelings.
The Takeaway: Never Be Vulnerable to Negative Comments
It’s easy for adults to tell teenagers to ignore the taunts and comments, but not so easy for them to put this into practice. Nevertheless, many bullies are just in need of a reaction. They live for this, so responding can often worsen the situation.
Therefore, it is better to ignore and just do your thing. Remain focused and believe in yourself. Say NO to alcohol and drugs. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. CWP
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