Addiction and Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has been scientifically explored and found to be one of the major driving forces for certain habits and behaviors. In particular, research has focused on the influence of peer pressure on substance abuse and addiction.

Through these investigations, it has been confirmed that peer pressure plays a role in influencing habits and decisions. Results derived from multiple studies have also reported that it can sway people into participating in activities and doing things that they would not do normally. Whether it is exercise or drug abuse, peer pressure can encourage you to alter your behavior.

The Peer Pressure Theory

The social scientists who study peer pressure typically use the social learning theory. This theory focuses on the ways in which human beings learn from each other. If you spend time with your friends and you see them drinking, you will learn about this behavior even if you have never drank alcohol in the past.

On the other hand, the social reinforcement theory states that it is possible to receive consequences that are specific to particular social situations. These consequences might scare you into doing the same things that your peers are doing, if only to maintain your spot within the group. For instance, if you do not drink alcohol at a party, you might be afraid that your friends might judge you. As a result, you may decide to drink after all.

The modeling behavior theory stipulates that you can learn new behaviors just by watching others. This is one of the learning mechanisms that is commonly associated with peer pressure. For instance, if you see your friends are all drinking alcohol, you might decide to start drinking.

There are also cognitive processes to take in mind. This is because thought processes are commonly associated with certain situations and activities. As such, they can cause you to increase your involvement in case the activities are positive or decrease your involvement if you consider them to be negative. To this end, you might think that drinking alcohol will make you more fun - leading to an increase in your alcohol consumption.

If you are in a safe environment and you are surrounded by your friends, it is highly likely that you will judge how their drinking has been affecting them. After that, you will gauge whether it is worth your while trying it.

The important thing to keep in mind is that it does not matter whether this process is conscious or not. Instead, you will start learning from your peers and eventually mimic the behaviors of the group.

Different Types of Peers

However, you still need to remember that the influence of peer pressure will not apply equally to every kind of friend and person that you socialize with. Surveys and studies have found that close friends tend to have a more powerful impact on behavior in comparison to strangers and acquaintances.

It is for this reason why many more people report that they tried drinking alcohol when they were gathered with their close friends than if they were at a large party surrounded by strangers.

Drinking in College

While reviewing the influence of peer pressure on alcoholism and drug addiction, it is important to focus on the effects of this phenomenon on young people. Social circles comprised of friends typically include similarly aged and similarly minded people.

These groups have a form of uniformity that leads to stronger effects from peer pressure. For this reason, experts now agree that college age young people have a higher risk of succumbing to peer pressure and getting involved with substances of abuse.

Researchers have also described this age as the window of vulnerability in the sense that it often increases the rates of alcohol consumption. It also plays an important role in the social component of regular college life.

When you combine all of these factors with the significant changes in the daily lifestyle of most college students, it is possible to see why there is such a high risk of alcohol consumption and drug use during these years.

Drugs and Peer Pressure

However, alcoholism is not the only condition that is increased by peer pressure. Drug use can also be influenced by this type of pressure. The only difference is that alcohol is more socially acceptable, popular, and affordable than illicit substance abuse - even though it is mostly underage among people who are influenced by their peers.

Further, illicit drugs are typically linked to illegal activities and behaviors as well as consequences that come from beyond the typical social group. Due to the perception that you might have of these consequences, it is highly likely that you may interrupt the ability of peer pressure to push you into extreme activities involving substance abuse. This could, as a result, reduce the chances that you will give into the pressure from your friends to try other extreme drugs.

Dealing with Peer Pressure

Although most of the concern from peer pressure is focused on the specific gatherings and parties in which it occurs, you should still consider the fact that it could have an impact later on in your life.

The types of alcohol and drug use behaviors that you engaged in and were reinforced by the peer pressure you experienced could end up leading to unhealthy habits that become ingrained into your character. This is why you are going to need intensive treatment and therapy to overcome all these issues.

You might also be able to avoid suffering that will by caused by your substance abuse and addiction if you educate yourself on the social pressures that you may experience as well as learn how you are going to avoid them.

Some of the things that you can do to reduce and eventually the influence of negative peer pressure include but are not limited to:

  • If the pressure does not stop, leave the situation immediately
  • Refuse to participate in the harmful activity using a firm voice while maintaining eye contact
  • Say that you are unable to participate due to the responsibilities that you have to take care of later on
  • Suggest different activities if only to steer the conversation aside from the topic that you do not want to discuss

On the other hand, if you have already been susceptible to peer pressure and are already engaging in substance abuse, you might want to consider enrolling in an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility so that you can address the problem before it gets out of hand.

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