How many times have you done something only because your friend was doing the same or asked you to do something? Well, most of us have at some point of time or the other experienced peer pressure. Peer pressure generally tends to have a negative image with most adults equating it with things that you should not be indulging in. Friends can often set a great example and push you to indirectly do better. This is an example of positive reinforcement due to peer pressure. But, sometimes you can be tempted to indulge in the darker side of things because your friends are doing the same. This is where the negative connotation that peer pressure has attached to it comes into the picture.
Conforming to the trends of your social group is something that even adults tend to give in to and therefore, it is understandable if a teenager is influenced by what his friend circle is doing. Occasionally this influence can be quite detrimental to the teenager, especially in cases where there are dangers like drug abuse. In this article, we will discuss the perils of drug abuse and the correlation between peer pressure and drugs.
How Peer Pressure can Cause Drug Abuse
The problem of drug abuse among teenagers is one that has been on a major rise in the recent past. Studies by health experts and institutes tell us that the chances that people will indulge in drug abuse and become addicted to prescription drugs or narcotics is at its highest during adolescence. It has been often noted that there are higher chances that a child will experiment with drugs in some form or the other during his teenage years. Studies show that this increased tendency to do drugs has often got a direct connection to the influence of one's friend circle. It is at this age that kids increasingly become dependent on their friends and start rebelling against parental rules.
Often the reason for experimentation with drugs is the nonchalant behavior that several teenagers display towards drug abuse. With television series and movies portraying drug abuse as an accepted reality, teenagers tend to develop a perception of drug abuse being cool. So, when they attend a party where drugs are passed around, they often succumb to the pressure of keeping up an image. It is easy for an adult to say to a teenager that if a friend is forcing them to drugs, then he is not your friend. But, for a child who is still in an in-between stage between childhood and adulthood making a decision of excluding a friend may not seem like a viable option.
Once you have used drugs, the ability to say no the second time around is difficult. This may arise from the logic presented about having done it once. Having experimented with drugs the ability to make the correct decision and to resist peer pressure becomes much lower and drug abuse can spiral out of control. Also, peer pressure does not always have to be a direct situation where someone tells you to try out drugs to fit in with the friend circle. Often peer pressure may be indirect where just because friends are indulging in drug abuse, it may be a temptation to do the same in an attempt to feel more socially accepted.
Studies have also indicated that teenagers from homes with an unstable family structure may be more prone to giving in to peer pressure and therefore, drugs. This is especially true for a household without a strong father figure. It has also been noticed that children who share strong bonds with their mothers are less prone to succumb to the pressure of using drugs. Unhappy home lives can cause a lot of psychological problems and trauma. This can result in an increased dependence on friends that can cause the pressure to succumb to demands and trends to become higher.
Countering Drug Abuse due to Peer Pressure
While peer pressure can be a strong force, it is possible to counter the pressure to ensure that your kid remains safe from the dangers of drug addiction. For most teenagers, even those aware of the risks of drug abuse, the biggest question remains, how do you say no. It is in no way easy to say no to a friend, especially at that age. The best way to deal with it is to say exactly what your instinct tells you.
If you know that you would not want to live with the fact that you did drugs as a teenager, then tell them so. If you are not interested in doing something that you are not comfortable with, then you need to say it out aloud. It is important to have the capability to deal with peer pressure situations. If they continue to force you, then it may be time to take a second look at the friendship.
One way to ensure that your kid does not indulge in drugs is by explaining to him the many dangers of drug addiction and the effects it can have on his future. Explain the health ramifications and the legal complications that can arise from drug abuse. It is important to educate them about the problems and the risks that can arise from constant drug abuse. Talking to teenagers and developing a good relationship with them is the best way to ensure that they do not do anything that will harm them in the long run. The education system can also be of huge help to counter the dangers of drug abuse by educating children on the dangers. In fact, many schools have mandatory classes on the risks on drug abuse and addiction.
After a certain age, it can be difficult for an adult, a parent or a teacher, to get through to a kid and have enough influence on them. But, educating them and telling them the difference between the right thing and the wrong can go a long way in helping them make the correct decision. Peer pressure and drugs will continue to have a strong interdependence, but by giving teenagers the arsenal of knowledge, it is possible to counter the dangerous path that they may choose otherwise.