Confidence is something we all struggle with, but it’s what young people struggle with the most. Even when you’re confident about the indisputable fact that you want to say no to drugs and alcohol, it can be very difficult to do so in front of your friends – all of whom say yes. Sometimes, in the right group of individuals, an easy “no, that’s okay” is sufficient to undo the problem. In other groups, it isn’t enough, and requests to explain yourself can be too much to handle. Instead of continuing to resist drugs and alcohol, you may ultimately give up and try something you did not want to try, but felt compelled to do.
Why Addiction Occurs In Teenagers
Teenagers are easily influenced. That’s the long and the short. They want to slot in and imitate their friends, and they want to be accepted. Teenagers do not really feel the impact multiple diagnoses or treatment of co-occurring disorders. They don’t understand mental health problems behind the addiction or how they can tell if they’ve it themselves. They just want to be like their friends and slot in, but it’s this vulnerability that can lead to long-term spirals of addiction and mental health problems that can be very difficult to get back out of.
Bad Outcome: Avoiding Pressure
Young people find it hard to say no, wanting to impress and be part of the gang. They are afraid of being rejected by their peers and being kicked out. Those who do manage to say no end up in a situation where they see their friends dabbling in drink and drugs, and they do not know how to get out of it.
With the tips below, you can escape the peer pressure from your friends and begin moving towards a life of freedom and individuality, and away from addictions and vulnerabilities.
Parents and mentors in educational settings need to educate youth as much as possible about what is anticipated. Not every teen will deal with peer pressure, but it is still important to wake them up. Talk openly about alcohol and drugs, their legality, consequences. Talk about how they can be true to what they want and say no to those who do not stand for it. Talk about toxicity and how it can ruin their youth.
Teenagers need positive reinforcement as much as they need exposure to consequences. Teenagers have the right to say no, and they can do so firmly without getting angry and defensive. Teach them how to use their powers and look their peers in the eye while they do it. Explain to the youth you are caring for that they can say no and even if people walk away from them, even if their friends laugh at them, even if their decisions falter – they’re strong.
Adults live with peer pressure every day, and a way to help your teen is to identify times in your adult life when you have been pressured and share their problems with you. Talk about why people do drugs and drink a lot. Compare their options – do they want a serene future or do they want to start researching treatment centers?
Model the healthy behaviors you want to see in your teen. You might have a glass of wine a week, and that is perfectly legal and balanced. Model balanced behavior and reinforce with demonstrations why they should resist peer pressure, and keep those lines of communication open.