How to Combat Peer Pressure
Peers are people who are your age, such as your classmates, teammates and friends. When these individuals try to coerce you to act a certain way or do something, this is peer pressure.
Peers can influence each other in positive ways. For example, you may want to try a sport your friend is playing or get a hairstyle your classmate pulls off well. However, it is important to recognize when peers may pressure you to do something that is dangerous and you would otherwise not otherwise attempt, such as trying harmful drugs. It is natural to want to fit in or go along with something others are doing, but this should not come at the cost of not being yourself and putting your health and safety at risk.
Here are some strategies to handle peer pressure.
- Pay attention to how you feel about a situation. If something does not feel right to you, it likely is not, even if others seem to go along with it. Trust your instincts.
- Speak with a friend about certain topics ahead of time who is on the same page as you. Having at least one other peer who also does not cave to the peer pressure of a situation will weaken the power of the pressure and strengthen your confidence.
- Talk with the person pressuring you and let them know they are making you feel uncomfortable.
- Have a code of communication with your parents to be picked up from a situation where you are uncomfortable. This should be something you can say or text to your parents that lets them know you want to be removed from your current situation. They can then text or call you to come home without alerting those around you.
- If “no” does not work in a situation, give an excuse. This can be you have an allergy or your parents need you home.
- Get support from a trusted adult.
- Stay away from peers who repeatedly pressure you. These people may seem like your friends, but if they are continually placing you in uncomfortable situations, they are not your real friends.
How to Help a Friend
We all want to be there for our friends, but sometimes we are not sure how. If you believe your friend may be misusing substances, it is important to help them in a safe and supportive manner.
Here are some strategies to helping friends who may be struggling with drug or alcohol use.
- Recognize the problem. Be aware of changes in behavior and appearance and review the symptoms the use of substances may be present. General symptoms of addiction include:
- Irritability and agitation
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of interest in activities, school and work
- Mood swings
- Neglected appearance and hygiene
- Neglected responsibilities
- Poor performances in activities, school and work
- Risky behavior
- Abnormal pupils
- Bloodshot eyes
- Bloody or runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Impaired coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep problems
- Slurred speech
- Weight loss or gain.
- Behavioral Symptoms
- Physical Symptoms
- Speak with a trusted adult about how to address the situation. Whether this is a family member, teacher, counselor or coach, it should be someone you believe can help you navigate the situation. This may also be someone who can approach the situation with your friend directly.
- Speak with your school’s guidance counselor, social worker or private therapist. Many have recommended steps for approaching the situation.
- Initiate a conversation with your friend when they are not under the influence. Create a two-way dialogue so they do not feel like they are being lectured.
- Refer them to a counselor.
- Refer them to a helpline.
- Show your love and support for your friend. It is important they know you are there for them throughout this process.
- Make sure your well-being is cared for throughout this process as well.
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