Peer pressure is an incredibly powerful tool that people use voluntarily and involuntarily to get others to do things they may or may not otherwise do. Peer pressure can happen at any age, but is more prevalent in adolescents and young adults. Most young adults begin using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure. Everyone wants and some need to fit in or be a part of something bigger than themselves. That desire to fit in can push some to engage in dangerous behaviors. The old axiom of choosing your friends carefully or that real friends do not pressure each other to do dangerous things is true. Peer pressure can push a person into drug experimentation and even addiction. Support groups are a positive form of peer pressure and they can help addicts recover from addiction.

What is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure is a type of push from an individual that is an equal. Peers often are the same age, economic class or grade. Normally these people are all in the same grade. Peer pressure is any influence that others of equal status places on another. Members of a group all have similar characteristics and interests. The behaviors that they exhibit and activities they engage in will be ‘forced’ on new members. They push others to adapt to their way of life; if drinking alcohol and doing drugs is part of the group, then that behavior will be pressured on others.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory is the idea that people learn by watching others. By socializing individuals learn different aspects of life and how things function. In one way this is a great part of humans. We do not need to step in front of a train to understand what happens. We see the dangers of certain activities and can choose to remain absent from them. It also means that watching others gain praise for engaging in certain activities will push people to replicate that. As a member or ‘soon to be’ member of a group you watch friends congratulate, laugh or praise someone for drinking alcohol or doing drugs as a good thing. You will then engage in those activities to experience that acclaim and fit in. Getting support and praise from peers is an important part of socializing. That support can be good when you are going through a tough period in your life, but it can also push peers to consume alcohol or do drugs.

Peer Pressure and Drug Use

Drug users push themselves into seclusion because abusing drugs and alcohol is not socially acceptable. As such, they will try to bring others with them, so they are not alone. In a group of peers, drug use or alcohol abuse could be the common denominator that brings them together. This group will work together to get drugs, do them and hide their activities from others. Peer pressure to do drugs and drink alcohol will continue and enable the group to drift close to addiction. It can be difficult to fight against substance abuse while in a group, but it should be done. Peer pressure is dangerous and very powerful.

Combating Peer Pressure

Choosing your friends wisely might be the best way to avoid peer pressure. Real friends do not force or push others to drugs or abuse alcohol. Young adults should choose positive role models and friends to which they surround themselves. Parents should speak to their children about peer pressure and making the right decision. By monitoring your child’s activities you can limit their exposure to drugs and alcohol. It is best to engage them in extracurricular and sports activities to limit their exposure to bullies or bad influences.