Peer pressure often plays a role in substance use and addiction. When everyone else is doing something, it can be difficult for us to refrain from joining in. We often surround ourselves with peers who share interests and hobbies. As such, if you are a big drinker or a drug user, you likely have friends who drink or using drugs as well.
If you are in a situation where most of your peers are substance users, how can you quit using the substance yourself? Can you remain friends with drinkers when you decide to live a sober life? With the right professional help and support, you can stay friends with people who use substances even when you are sober, though you may want to add sober friends to your peer group.
Positive and Negative Peer Pressure
We tend to think of peer pressure as negative, but in truth, drug and alcohol addiction peer pressure can be either negative or positive.
Negative peer group pressure and addiction tend to be linked. This type of peer pressure leads to someone engaging in unhealthy behaviors, including drug or alcohol use. Peer pressure and addiction relapse may also be linked, as this pressure could lead to a relapse after an addict has chosen to pursue recovery.
Peer pressure can be obvious, such as offering a person a drink or mocking someone who refuses to use the substance. However, peer pressure can also be more subtle and indirect. For example, if popular students choose to consume alcohol, other students may believe they should consume alcohol to be accepted by their peers.
Unlike negative peer pressure, positive peer pressure encourages someone to make healthy and positive choices. Through positive peer pressure, a peer or group of peers may encourage others to avoid using certain substances or to avoid using substances in specific ways. Positive peer pressure may also include encouraging a friend to study more to get better grades or motivating a peer to save money for a financial goal.
Peer Pressure and Substance Use Disorder
You may feel more obligated to use a drug, such as marijuana if the people around you are doing it at the time. If you continue to associate with people who encourage your drug use, you may keep using it and develop an addiction.
Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use Disorder
Because consuming alcohol is so socially acceptable, alcohol is the most commonly used substance in a peer pressure situation. Many individuals start using alcohol due to direct or indirect pressure they feel from peers who are drinking.
Peer Pressure and Other Types of Addiction
Drugs and alcohol are not the only things you can become addicted to. Other types of addiction include:
- Food addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Internet addiction
- Video game addiction
- Exercise addiction
For example, if a young person plays sports in school, he or she may start to identify too much with sports as a result of peer pressure. The individual might put competition and exercise above everything else, causing them to neglect relationships and schoolwork.
Overcoming Peer Pressure and Getting Help
Do you believe you may be suffering from substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder? If you’re ready to seek treatment, contact us at Gateway Foundation.