Understanding Peer Pressure

According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 55% of teens said they started using drugs after being pressured by their friends. As humans, it is natural for us to want to fit in with a group and be accepted. Unfortunately, sometimes the groups we end up with aren’t the most positive ones for our lives. This can be especially true if you live in a small town with minimal choices for friends to surround yourself with. Luckily, there are still many things you can do to combat peer pressure so that you don’t go down a road that you don’t want to go down.

Types of Peer Pressure

When you think of peer pressure, there’s a classic visualization that comes to mind: A group of people trying everything to convince someone else to do something. While this is peer pressure, there are other types of peer pressure as well. It is important to understand what they are so that you can recognize peer pressure when it is happening.

Spoken and Unspoken

Spoken peer pressure is the most obvious form of peer pressure. It can involve people trying to convince you to do something, or putting you down if you say no. Spoken peer pressure can be much more than trying to talk you into something – it can also include calling you names or making you feel less-than with phrases such as, “you’re a party pooper” or “you’re going to be the only one missing out!”

Unspoken peer pressure is very similar, but can involve something as subtle as an eye roll or any type of nonverbal action that can make you feel like you’re wrong for turning the person down. While unspoken peer pressure might be able to give you an easy out from the situation without much verbal confrontation, it can plant seeds of guilt in you and you may eventually cave in order to not disappoint the other person.

Positive and Negative

While most peer pressure is negative, there are types of peer pressure that can be positive to recognize. This can include a friend trying to convince you to try a new type of food, workout or hobby that you normally wouldn’t have ever tried. Even if you end up not liking it, this type of peer pressure can be beneficial in broadening your horizons.

Negative peer pressure, however, is the complete opposite. This is when a friend is trying to convince you to do something dangerous, that deters from your priorities or that jeopardizes your life in some way.

What You Can Do

Now that you can understand peer pressure when you see it, it is important to know what to do when you see it happening to you. The most important things to remember are to be assertive, confront the leader, evaluate your friendships and to speak out.

Be Assertive, and Back It Up

If you are feeling pressured into doing something you don’t want to do, make sure you stay assertive in saying no. You can follow up your “no” with a statement to back it up so that they can end the pressuring. These statements can even be total lies – just make sure you can do whatever it will take for you to get out of the situation you’re in. This can include such phrases as:

  • No thanks, I have important things to do later.
  • I can’t, my parents will totally know.
  • Listen, I can’t keep being friends with you if you keep asking me.

Confront the Leader of the Pack

When it comes to peer pressure and social circles, there is usually a leader of the pack. Talking to this person can help ease peer pressure quite a bit. The leader of the pack tends to thrive when their followers are around, so make sure you can talk to this person when they are alone. Asking them to get off your case and letting go of the peer pressure will help the rest of the group do the same once they see that the leader is no longer doing it.

Evaluate Your Friendships

When peer pressure becomes too great, it might be time for you to reevaluate your friendships and surround yourself with more positive people. If the peer pressure takes place at school, try to join a new sport or club so that you surround yourself with new people at the school. You can also make friends outside of school by joining a youth group or other type of meet up, or if it is very severe, talk to your family about moving to another school.

Speak Out

Doing nothing will not help peer pressure go away. If you do not have the courage to stand up for yourself or the self-esteem to make new friends, it is time for you to speak up to your support system. Talk to a fellow student, a teacher, a parent or a trusted loved one about how you feel. Chances are, you are not alone.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Drug use in childhood and teen years can do long-term damage to brain growth and development. One of the most important parts of avoiding this or an eventual addiction is to resist peer pressure to give in to trying drugs or alcohol. You are stronger than you think, and chances are there are many other people who feel the same way as you. Be aware of your moods and speak up when it becomes too great, or else you may accidentally fall down a path that you do not want to go down.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and
healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com