Think don’t drink!

Peer Pressure Can Lead to Alcohol Use

It could occur in a workplace, school or via social media. Social media and alcohol use have become intertwined over the years. A report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found 75 percent of surveyed teens feel encouraged to drink after seeing photographs of peers partying on social media.

Peer pressure can be positive or negative. Positive peer pressure could motivate individuals to exercise, display integrity and avoid drugs or alcohol.

Common activities associated with negative peer pressure are:

  • Consuming drugs or alcohol
  • Stealing
  • Cheating
  • Gossiping
  • Other risky behaviors

Peer pressure can lead to alcohol abuse. It helps diminish a gene that prevents people from developing alcohol problems, per a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Saying no can protect individuals from a host of consequences.

Young people enjoying a party and beer

Single-Parent Households and Blended Families

Children from single-parent households or blended families are especially vulnerable, according to a University of Wisconsin study.

The report, which evaluated nearly 7,000 children aged 12 to 17, found that children who grew up in a household with both natural parents were less susceptible to pressure from friends. Children raised by a natural parent and a stepparent were just as likely to give in to peer pressure as those in single-parent homes.

Brett Laursen, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, says children with few friends are likely to be swayed by peer pressure. He says boys generally want to impress groups while girls aim to impress particular individuals.

How to Avoid Peer Pressure

People should never be pressured to drink alcohol against their own wishes and judgment. Giving in to temptation can be dangerous for teens and adults. Knowing how to turn down a drink is invaluable.

Ways to Say No

There are a number of ways to say no to alcohol:

  • Simply say “no thank you.”
  • Change the topic.
  • Suggest a different activity.
  • Enlist friends for support.
  • Leave the situation.

You could also say you don’t drink. It’s simple, to the point and truthful.

When turning down a drink, be confident. You can build confidence by rehearsing what to say in these situations. Practicing your responses in advance allows you to critique your approach and change your phrasing.

To avoid feeling pressured to drink, attend activities that don’t involve alcohol. These settings could include coffeehouses, movie theaters, malls, fitness centers or your home.

Consequences of Saying Yes

Each day, crowds of people succumb to peer pressure. However, doing so can lead to a number of problems.

Why Do People Say Yes?

People give in to peer pressure for a number of reasons:

  • They want to be liked.
  • They want to fit in and avoid feeling like an “outsider.”
  • They want to avoid ridicule.
  • They want to be rebellious.
  • They are trying to escape the pressures of school or work.
  • They are interested in trying something new.

Individuals are more likely to give into peer pressure in social settings and are more likely to drink if those around them are. When attending social settings alone, a person’s odds of drinking increase.

Consistently giving in to peer pressure can lead to frequent alcohol consumption. This could lead to alcohol abuse problems.

In very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication. People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented. Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry. Reaction times are slowed dramatically — which is why people are told not to drink and drive. People who are intoxicated may think they’re moving properly when they’re not. They may act totally out of character.

Peer pressure is an epidemic among young people. In 2014, nearly 60 percent of full-time college students had drunk alcohol in the past month. Many students drink at bars or house parties, where peer pressure is common.

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result. Alcohol poisoning is exactly what it sounds like — the body has become poisoned by large amounts of alcohol. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.

Click below to learn more about the consequences of underage drinking, and the benefits of waiting until you’re 21.