Although peer pressure might be thought of to exist among teens, it happens among adults all the time. And it doesn’t only happen with alcohol or drugs, it happens in the most simple of circumstances. Let’s say you’ve just arrived at a friend’s house. Even from outside, you could already smell the delicious scent of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. You’re on a diet so you think to yourself, “I can’t have any of those cookies.” Yet, sure enough, when asked if you want some, you say to your friend – not wanting to disappoint her – “Well, maybe I’ll have just one.” It’s an innocent experience, and most of us are socially conditioned to be polite, especially when it comes to food.
However, when it comes to something that is potentially dangerous, such as alcohol or drugs, you probably want to throw social conditioning out the window. And yet, you might still find yourself saying yes to a glass of wine when you don’t want one. If you’re a recovering addict, you might accept the beer and then pour it down the drain when you’re alone in the bathroom. Yet, there are other ways to curb the pressure to drink or use drugs that can keep you in your integrity and feeling true to yourself, such as:
Practice saying an assertive NO. When you’re at a party and someone offers you a drink, look them in the eye and say “No”. Then, you might change the subject so that there’s no questioning you about why. For instance, you might say, “No, thanks. Am I going to see you at soccer practice tomorrow?” If that’s not your style, you might simply get comfortable at saying a firm “no”.
Be the caretaker. Like being the designated driver, you might take on the caring role of making sure your friends and family get home safely. You might be on the lookout for others who are consuming too much alcohol. Your designated role as caretaker might curb anyone’s tendency to offer you a drink.
Hold a drink in your hand. This too can keep someone from offering you something to drink if you’re already holding something.
Plan ahead. If you know you’re headed to a party with drugs or alcohol, prepare a response ahead of time for when you’re offered to participate. You might say, “this just isn’t my thing” or “I don’t feel well today. It’s better if I don’t.” Having something prepared will prevent you from stumbling over your words in the moment, which can be true for those who are socially awkward.
Listen to your intuition. Sometimes, the presence of drugs and alcohol is bad news. If you’re in a situation that doesn’t feel right, leave. Walk home or call a cab. Find a friend and leave together. Listening to your gut is important and shouldn’t be undervalued.
These are suggestions for avoiding the pressure that can come from friends and even family to drink or use drugs. And you might have to find your own way. In fact, you might find that avoiding situations with alcohol and drugs can also be a way to stay sober and stay true to yourself.
However, if you find that you’re still having a hard time saying no. Or if you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, contact a mental health provider for support.
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