Peer Pressure: How to Deal with It

There are several risk factors that can influence whether someone may develop a substance use disorder. Among these factors are age of first use and peer pressure. During adolescence, early adulthood, and even into later years, peer influence can have an impact on behavior that can lead to substance use and misuse.

Our guide will explain what peer pressure is, provide tips for handling peer pressure, and help you find treatment for a loved one that may be struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Why Do Young People Give in to Peer Pressure?

young man taking drugs at party

Some of the reasons young folks can be vulnerable to peer pressure to do drugs are:

  • Drug use and drinking is promoted as relieving boredom, especially since it gives a group of peers something to do together.
  • Drugs and alcohol have psychoactive effects, such as a euphoric high.
  • The lowered inhibitions associated with drug use can make individuals feel like they are having fun while on the drug.
  • Young people may be curious about drug use — among other “prohibited things. Actual drug use is a way to respond to that curiosity.
  • Risk-taking behaviors may be seen as a fun break from the norm of school and family obligations. Taking drugs, since it is illegal and there is always a public advisement against it, is a risky activity that can be interpreted, however incorrectly, as something different and exciting to do.
  • Young people may see drug or alcohol use as a way to assert their maturity. It may also be perceived as a way of asserting their independence from their family, something many people in early adulthood want to do.

How Does Peer Pressure Work?

In adolescence through early adulthood, a person’s social group can be more influential than parents or family. However, peer pressure can be harmful at times. The following are some of the reasons why a person’s peers can be so persuasive in any given social setting and why peer pressure can be particularly dangerous in the case of drugs:

  • Young people often rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. If something is peer-tested and peer-approved, then they are apt to try the thing out, including illicit drugs.
  • Many individuals often have incomplete information about drugs. A peer who recommends a drug, for instance, is essentially passing on bad advice and a lack of information about the many negative side effects the drug will have on a person’s welfare.
  • Young adults may require little provocation to try drugs. Bonding among youth often centers around shared actions. Doing drugs can be equated in a young person’s mind with being a member of a group. In this scenario, the desire to bond may outstrip any fear about drug abuse.
  • Young people may be receptive to different drugs of abuse, which can lead to a practice of polydrug abuse.

Early adulthood is an especially vulnerable time for people and young people make up a vulnerable class. One of the ways that parents and loved ones can help their young person is provide tips and tools to understand how to deal with peer pressure.

Tips on How to Deal with Peer Pressure

When it comes to helping your young adult navigate peer pressure, it is best to be prepared. A helpful way to prepare is to have some guiding principles in place. The following are some ways that you can help the young person that you love effectively deal with peer pressure.

Have a plan. Having a plan or thinking through what you will do in the face of a known risk, such as a peer invitation to do drugs, is a way to get ready for the real-life scenario. Having a plan can involve:

  • Practicing saying no away from peer groups.
  • Having numbers of trusted friends or family on hand to call if you need a ride.
  • Using a code word or having a check-in time that can help you get out of situations that may be risky.

Avoid people, places, and things. A common adage in 12-step recovery groups is “People, places, and things.” This is because some people, some areas, and some things can be triggers for drug or alcohol use. It can be challenging to say no to parties or gatherings or hanging out with groups of peers, but avoiding people, places, and things can be an effective strategy.

Practice being a leader. Leadership happens when a person cuts a new path through an issue. Young adults can keep in mind that they may feel pressure, but they are not obligated to do anything they don’t want to do or know better than to do. Peer pressure works, in part, by making people feel as if they are without options. This is simply never the case

Suggest an alternative activity. One way to overcome peer pressure is to create a new practice. Some friends may get on board with it and turn it into a group. For instance, suggesting playing basketball or watching a movie can give pushback to peer drug invitations. Those friends who join up with that plan are voting against drug use, and the invitation to use drugs loses its power and influence.

Join a group, volunteer, or play sports. Joining athletic or scholastic groups or volunteering in the community are all worthwhile activities that will not only be fulfilling, but keep a young person’s schedule busy.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Near Miami, FL

If you’re a young person struggling with addiction or have a loved one that is, know that there is help available to you. At our inpatient drug and alcohol treatment in Hollywood, FL, we have a proven track record of helping people find hope, healing and recovery.

Contact our helpful admissions navigators at to get information about our addiction treatment options, learn about ways to pay for rehab, or to find out how to use your insurance for addiction treatment. They will also be happy to answer your questions about our facility, what you can expect in treatment, and help you start the admissions process.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Recovery First is located in Hollywood, Florida, which is easily accessible from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Our small groups means you get more one-on-one support and make stronger connections with the community. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Florida's Atlantic coast or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.