The teenage years are filled with new experiences and changing environments. Navigating the teenage years can be filled with insecurity and fitting in can feel like the most important thing. Peer pressure can make a teen feel isolated or manipulated and can play a big role in decision making and behavior.
Peer pressure is the influence on a person from their peers to change their beliefs or behavior to conform to that of the group. Teen peer pressure can happen in lots of situations, including drinking alcohol or using drugs.
Peer pressure is certainly not a new concept, but the risks of teen peer pressure are increasingly high. Learning about how peer pressure affects teens can help parents, caregivers and teens themselves navigate situations related to drugs or drinking.
Types of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure generally has a negative reputation, but it can also be used for positive influences. Positive and negative peer pressure can impact a teen’s choices and the risks or benefits that follow.
Recognizing different types of peer pressure can help equip teenagers with the skills to make their own decisions. It can also help teens to use peer pressure in a positive way or to protect themselves from risky behavior.
Importantly, peer pressure doesn’t always clearly come from other people. Teens can experience internal peer pressure, which comes from what they think is normal or acceptable for people their age without anyone else clearly telling them so.
Examples of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is present in many different situations. Peer pressure can present itself in different ways, including:
- Peer pressure to drink alcohol at parties or to drink more than you want to
- Peer pressure to try a drug
- Embarrassing or ridiculing someone who declines drinking or taking drugs
- Using social media to embarrass or exclude someone who refuses drugs or alcohol
- Using acceptance or inclusion as a reward for drinking or taking drugs
Peer pressure scenarios involving drugs are less common in young adolescents but can increase with age. A teen who does not want to drink or use drugs might be bullied or feel isolated or weird if they don’t participate. Fear of being different and social exclusion can be a driving force behind drug and alcohol use.
Why Are Teens So Easily Influenced By Peer Pressure?
Adolescents, particularly those younger in age, experience some of the highest rates of peer pressure. There are several developmental reasons that teens are more easily influenced by their peers. Firstly, deviant behavior tends to emerge for the first time during adolescence as teens gain independence. This development makes situations where peer pressure might happen more common.
Teens are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure because many aspects of self-regulation are still developing at this age. Teens are still figuring out who they are, and do not have the same self-certainty or identify as adults do. The teenage brain is still developing, and parts of the brain tied to self-control and weighing up risks are not fully developed.
From a social perspective, fitting in as a teenager is important. Teens value acceptance within their peer groups.
Effects of Peer Pressure
Teen behavior can be heavily influenced by peer pressure and the people they surround themselves with. The effects of peer pressure can impact teens’ sense of belonging and can include effects ranging from ridicule to assault.
The effects of peer pressure can be serious and even life-threatening. In the case of substance use or drinking, peer pressure can lead to serious side effects, overdose or drug addiction. Young people often underestimate or are unaware that taking drugs — even once — can lead to an overdose or addiction.
Peer pressure is often taken lightly and considered a normal part of being a teen. However, peer pressure related to drug use can have a life-long impact. Teen behavior is heavily influenced by acceptance or rejection by their peers and friends. It’s important to consider social dynamics when talking to teens about relationships and behavior.
How To Deal With Peer Pressure
Knowing how to deal with peer pressure can protect teens from risky behavior like using drugs or drinking. Dealing with peer pressure in middle school or high school is common, so knowing some tips can help teens be prepared and know their options:
- Choose friends wisely
- Own your choices
- Ask for help
- Walk away
- Use an excuse
- Stand up for friends or peers if you see them being pressured
- Be assertive
Dealing with peer pressure effectively can depend on the situation and the teen. What works for one person might not work for someone else. It’s important for teens to know a few different strategies so that there are options for ways to say no. While being direct and confident is ideal, it’s okay to use an excuse or to make something up to get out of a dangerous situation.
Helping Your Teenager With Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is common, and tips for how to avoid peer pressure entirely are likely unrealistic. Rather than hoping to avoid peer pressure for drugs, it’s a good idea to learn how to cope with peer pressure to prevent risky behaviors.
Talking about peer pressure and when it can happen with your teenager is a great way to start. It’s important to discuss that help is available and where to get help for peer pressure with your teenager. This can be a teacher, a parent or a trusted adult.
It’s also important to discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol with your teen. Teens can underestimate how dangerous it is to drink or try drugs even one time. Education about drugs and alcohol can go a long way in reducing the risks of peer pressure.
Getting Help With Teen Addiction
Substance use disorders in teens can impact lifelong health, but early intervention is important and effective. There are different types of teen drug treatment or rehab available around the country and locally in Florida.
If you are looking for help for a teen with a substance use disorder, Next Generation Village offers substance abuse treatment for teens. Call today and learn how specialized treatment can help teens achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Crockett, Lisa; Raffaelli, Marcela; Shen, Yuh-Ling. “Linking Self-Regulation and Risk Proneness to Risky Sexual Behavior: Pathways through Peer Pressure and Early Substance Use.” Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2006. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Allen, Joseph P; et al. “Predictors of susceptibility to peer influence regarding substance use in adolescence.” Child Development, 2012. Accessed September 18, 2019.
McIntosh, J; et al. “Why do children experiment with illegal drugs? The declining role of peer pressure with increasing age.” Addiction Research & Theory, 2006. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Trucco, Elisa; et al. “Vulnerability to peer influence: a moderated mediation study of early adolescent alcohol use initiation.” Addictive Behaviors, 2011. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Bellum, Sarah. “Why does peer pressure influence teens to try drugs.” National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, May 2012. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Esiri, May Omogho. “The Influence of Peer Pressure on Criminal Behaviour.” IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, January 2016. Accessed September 18, 2019.
UC Santa Cruz. “How to Handle Peer Pressure.” Counselling and Psychological Services, 2019. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Wolfe, David; et al. “Observations of Adolescent Peer Resistance Skills Following a Classroom-Based Healthy Relationship Program: A Post-intervention Comparison.” Prevention Science, 2012. Accessed September 18, 2019.
Carney, Tara; Myers, Browyen. “Effectiveness of early interventions for substance-using adolescents: findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, 2012. Accessed September 18, 2019.