There is widely thought to be a link between peer pressure and substance abuse, with social pressure from others often contributing towards different forms of addiction.
It’s not surprising that the people we associate with and the surroundings we socialise in can have a huge impact on the people we become. This is especially true if you already have an addictive personality or are easily influenced by others. Even if you are reluctant to try alcohol or drugs, it’s all too easy to succumb to peer pressure.
Of course, peer pressure is not always obvious and direct – it can manifest over time and involve instances of indirect pressure, which can be just as damaging.
We’ve explored the link between peer pressure and addiction – here’s everything you need to know.
Peer pressure is the term used to refer to situations where your peers (the people you surround yourself with) start to influence your decision-making, often without you even realising it is happening.
Although peers can have a positive impact on our thoughts, feelings, and life choices, they can also go the other way, leading us down the wrong road in life, especially for those who are easily influenced to make bad choices in order to conform to certain ideologies.
Whether you’re influenced to act in a certain way to fit in or you feel pressure to be someone you are not to make others happy, peer pressure comes in lots of different forms.
There’s no denying that peer pressure can have a detrimental impact on a person’s behaviour, regardless of how old they are.
We’ve taken a look at some of the different types of peer pressure and the influence they have on addiction.
Spoken peer pressure is the term used to describe the act of persuasion from one person to another. In other words, when an individual asks, directs, or persuades someone to act in a certain manner or engage in a behaviour when they would otherwise be reluctant to do so.
This level of influence can lead to a person feeling under an immense amount of pressure to act in a certain way.
Unspoken peer pressure refers to instances where a person is exposed to and influenced by a group of people acting in a particular way. Unspoken peer pressure occurs when the individual then feels the need to act in this way too, even if they are reluctant to do so.
In today’s society, this can happen a lot, with individuals often feeling the need to “fit in” or become an integral part of a group, team or clique at work, school, college or in other social settings.
Direct peer pressure centres around actively encouraging individuals to engage in certain types of behaviour. This type of direct peer pressure can be spoken or unspoken and typically involves encouraging a person to make an impulsive decision that is out of character.
Many people engage with indirect peer pressure without even realising it. It involves exerting a strong influence on an individual, without them even noticing.
A common form of indirect peer pressure is being encouraged to drink or take drugs, even if you do not usually consume these substances. In instances of indirect peer pressure, many people struggle to say no, fearing they will not be accepted or they will upset their peers.
Not all examples of peer pressure are negative. After all, the people and places we actively choose to surround ourselves in can have a huge impact on our values, morals and how we conduct ourselves day to day. In many ways, it is our friends, families and colleagues who play a significant role in shaping who we are.
Providing behaviours are age-appropriate, healthy and deemed socially acceptable, this is classed as positive peer pressure.
Negative peer pressure can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s life, especially if the person on the receiving end is encouraged to participate in illegal, harmful or anti-social behaviours.
Many addicts find it difficult to say no when put in situations where they are subjected to negative peer pressure, resulting in them relapsing.
Peer pressure and alcohol abuse
Positive peer pressure is integral to the recovery of many addicts. Other people often have the power to motivate and encourage addicts to remain on a positive road to recovery by avoiding the people, places, and triggers that may cause them to relapse.
Many people feel peer pressure to try drugs for the first time. However, it is these instances where people are encouraged to use drugs recreationally which can lead to a number of long-term issues, including addiction.
At ANA, we work closely with our clients to help rebuild their lives, gain confidence and self-worth and believe that they can live a healthy, responsible, and productive life, free of addictive substances.
Contact ANA today, our friendly team is on hand and ready to help