The desire to fit in and feel like you’re a part of a group, a team or a community is normal. Many feel this way sometimes, especially teenagers and young adults.
Peer pressure, the feeling that you have to do something to earn respect and gain acceptance, can be difficult to handle. This type of pressure can push you to do things that aren’t right for you or cause you to do stuff that you’ll regret later in your life.
If your friends ask you to use (or misuse) drugs or medications because it’s fun, what would you do? A lot of times, a simple “no” may be enough. Sometimes, however, you may have people in your circle who are a little too pushy or have great persuasion skills.
When you’re facing indirect or overt pressure to use or misuse drugs, try using the following strategies:
Think About the Consequences of Your Actions
Before you cave in to the whims of your friends, you have to realize the choices you make have consequences. Your bad or negative decisions may hurt you or the people that matter the most in your life.
Let’s pretend that you say yes to using illicit drugs. When you take these drugs, you may develop substance use disorder. This can negatively affect your relationships with your friends and family. You may also need to undergo substance use rehab for cocaine or whatever drug you’re using. If you don’t go through the rehab and decide to continue using or misusing drugs, trouble with the law could follow and a likely deterioration of your health.
So think clearly before you decide on anything. What you do in the present moment can change your future.
Be Confident When You Say “No”
Some people may need a little more convincing before they take a hint. Never sound uncertain.
When you decline the offer to take drugs, make your message clear and easy to hear.
You can also be specific with your message. Rather than casually say, “pass” or “nah,” you could say, “No, I don’t want it.”
Get Involved Doing Worthwhile Activities
Joining community- or school-based organizations will help you meet and identify people who can be a positive influence in your life. Extracurricular activities tend to have strict guidelines and schedules that don’t give you a lot of time to get into trouble.
If your friends are pressuring you to use illicit drugs, tell your friends you need to attend a community or school event. You could also say that you have to practice or finish a particular extracurricular task or activity. Consider these reasons as your built-in exit plan.
Second-Guess Your Actions If You Think You’re Following the Crowd
Sometimes, you need to follow what your gut is telling you and know when you should decline something. There may be times when the demands of your friends will make you act quickly to follow the crowd.
Let’s say your group of friends pressure you into taking opioids during a dance party. Almost everyone in the room has taken the drug – and you’re one of the few who hasn’t done this yet. This scenario presents a small window of opportunity to make the right choice. If you’re ever in this situation, be ready to execute your exit plan.
Volunteer a Better Idea
If your friends want you to get high, offer up something else they can do. Although you can’t control how your friends act or what they say, you have the right to put forward another idea. If they don’t like your suggestion, do your own thing and leave them to do whatever they want without you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
At some point, you need to draw the line between what’s OK and what’s unacceptable.
Your friends should not force, pressure or trick you into doing drugs. What’s more, your friends shouldn’t criticize, shame, belittle or mock you for your life choices. If they’re attacking you because you’re not on their side, walk away. Maybe it’s not a good idea to spend any more time with them. True friends never pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do or something that may eventually harm you.