07 Sep Addiction Vulnerabilities: How Peer Pressure Can Influence Substance Use
When a person struggles with substance abuse, it often stems from various factors. Though it usually isn’t the root cause, peer pressure is a substantial variable that has affected the majority of those addicted to drugs and alcohol. Today, we will discuss the role of peer pressure and how it can influence substance abuse.
What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is something we all come across throughout our lives, which can have both positive and negative side effects. It is when a group or an individual exert social influence and encourages us to do or try something. More often than not, peer pressure is linked to negative things such as drugs and alcohol, which can lead to substance abuse and addiction. When we experience peer pressure, it encourages us to change our behaviour and attitude and influence what we consider a social norm. When hearing the term, we are likely to picture a group attempting to persuade somebody to try something they haven’t before. Still, there are actually different forms of peer pressure that we all experience, some more subtle than others.
Different forms of peer pressure that can influence substance abuse
Direct peer pressure – This is the form of peer pressure that most of us will think of when we hear the term. It is by far the most straightforward form. It occurs when peers directly encourage someone to take part in certain activities. An example is being pressured to try a cigarette or take drugs.
Indirect peer pressure – This is more subtle, as there is no physical encouragement from peers. It is when a person is indirectly influenced by their peers to try something without explicit pressure. For example, it may occur if a person hears a friend talking about how much they enjoy participating in activities such as drinking or drug use. Indirect peer pressure might influence someone to believe something is the norm and encourage them to participate in certain activities too.
Unspoken peer pressure – This type of peer pressure comes from being around people engaging in certain behaviors, but it doesn’t need to be spoken. When a person is susceptible to unspoken peer pressure, it often comes from a desire to fit in.
Peer pressure can affect people of all ages but is far more likely to encourage substance abuse in younger people. When we are young, we are finding our place in the world, trying to create a personal identity and find social acceptance. Peers play a vital role in our development, so when someone close does something, they can easily influence others to join in. Suppose someone’s upbringing has been unstable in any way, or they are dealing with trauma. In that case, this exacerbates the need to fit in and surround themself with people, as peers become even more critical when somebody is in need of close relationships and security.
Who is more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure?
Understanding who is likely to be susceptible can be complex, as everyone can be at points throughout their lives. However, some factors make it more likely to have less resilience than others. The most common age to be influenced by peer pressure is a person’s teenage years when people are craving independence from their families. Here is a list of some more common variables that can influence someone’s susceptibility to peer pressure.
- When people look up to their peers
- People with low willpower
- Popular people wanting to maintain their status
- Those with fear of rejection or abandonment
- People who are susceptible to the environment around them
- People who have experienced trauma
- People who have been neglected growing up
How peer pressure leads to drug and alcohol use
Peer pressure and substance abuse are directly linked. If a person is less resilient to peer pressure in early life, they are much more likely to partake in substance abuse which can lead to addiction. Often, when a person is susceptible to peer pressure, it is linked to lacking something in their life or dealing with trauma, which, in turn, can lead to long-term substance abuse.
If a person’s family or social circle has a history of substance abuse, they are far more likely to accept it as a social norm. This can lead to indirect peer pressure and accepting drugs and alcohol as an acceptable path if they feel their life is lacking. Similarly, if someone feels rejected by their family members, this can result in enhanced dedication to follow the crowds they mix with, so if that is substance use, they may start using themselves.
Ways to avoid peer pressure
Thankfully, if a person is susceptible to peer pressure, it doesn’t mean they will develop an addiction. There are many things that a person can do to resist the urges of peer pressure.
- Practice assertiveness – saying no can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. If you are a person who struggles to say no, try to do it as often as possible. It may be a good idea to start small and work your way up to the bigger things.
- Choose peers who don’t use drugs or alcohol regularly – choosing the right social circle is key. If you are surrounded by people who don’t drink or take drugs, it is highly unlikely that you will go down that path.
- Have a reliable friend to turn to – creating a buddy system is always a good idea. Having someone to turn to who can help you resist certain urges can lower the effect of peer pressure.
- Seek professional support – if peer pressure leads you towards using drugs and alcohol, talking to a professional may be a smart idea before things get worse. They will be able to give you the correct guidance to steer away from substance use.
- Surround yourself with positive peer pressure – as mentioned before, not all peer pressure is bad. Sometimes peers may encourage you to do brilliant things. This can also be used to overcome addiction.
- Building self-confidence through healthy habits – people susceptible to peer pressure often lack self-confidence. Healthy habits such as healthy eating, exercise, or creative hobbies can build a person’s self-esteem and increase resilience to peer pressure.
Are you seeking help for substance abuse?
Contact Calm Rehab today if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse. Our drug rehab in Bali is devoted to bringing people back to the best versions of themselves. We have the best facilities and a team of dedicated professionals to help you deal with every step of the journey to sobriety.