Will Drugs and Alcohol Facilitate My Socializing?

Among young people, there is a myth about how using drugs and alcohol can enable one to socialize better and gain popularity. The truth behind this claim is, in fact, peer pressure. Many young people have succumbed to peer socializing pressure when it comes to using drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, these substances do not help young people build healthy and authentic relationships. Quite the contrary – addiction can most likely impair relationships.

Why Is Peer Pressure So Irresistible to Young People?

Peer pressure refers to influence from members of a peer group. For teens and adolescents, the pressure to conform in a group of friends and classmates can be powerful. They may feel pressured into doing something they are uncomfortable with. Such pressure can be expressed openly or implicitly. In most instances, peer pressure is hard to define or pinpoint, but its presence is undoubtedly there.

As human beings, we are highly social beings who signal to each other about norms, so peer pressure is not inherently bad. However, reality presents more negative cases of peer pressure when teens and adolescents have access to drugs and alcohol in their environment. Take the desire to socialize, for example. It is natural and age-appropriate for young people to explore friendships and spend time together, but drugs and alcohol are often used in these same social settings.

Do Drugs and Alcohol Enhance Socializing? 

Drugs and alcohol may enhance socializing because using them in a group setting can amplify the positive mood effects and the value of social stimuli. Unfortunately, their negative influences can be hidden behind these seemingly beneficial effects, especially for young people who have not developed responsible ways of regulating behaviors.

Some people claim that using drugs or alcohol is a good way to socialize because many say or do things they normally wouldn’t and using substances seems to release something in them. It is true that drugs and alcohol may change how the brain works, which might first feel like a release of pleasure. Gradually, however, the long-term risks of dependency on substances will show up.

Take social drinking, for example. Consuming alcohol in a social setting, such as a party or a bar may make people feel relaxed because alcohol affects brain function, changing moods and behaviors. Repeated social drinking can soon develop into alcoholism, though. Heavy social drinking can cause people to engage in compulsive and abusive behaviors.

How Can a Person Resist Peer Pressure?

Not conforming to a group’s norm can be costly. Young people should expect resisting peer pressure to be necessary and costly. When feeling pushed to participate in something you do not want, one needs to be firm and tactful. Real friends will surely respect your decision. Those who cheer you on to engage in risk-taking activities are not real friends who care about your decision as an individual or your safety.

The larger social environment is saturated with the presence of drugs and alcohol, so young people today should have strategies to avoid exposure to them. You can suggest different healthy activities to steer the social event away from unhealthy activities. A few sober friends can also form a mutual support and accountability group. If the pressure to use drugs and alcohol continues, then the last strategy is to leave the occasion.

How Can You Swim Against the Tide?

One can think of oneself as vulnerable when faced with peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol in social situations. Perhaps a change of perspective is needed here. For someone to swim against the tide, there is great strength shown, too. Young people should recognize the reality that they do not need to be liked and approved by everyone in the peer group. Nobody can be everyone’s friend, and there will always be people who dislike you. Their sense of self-worth is grounded in who they truly are, not by external affiliations.

Swimming against the tide of peer pressure also requires emotional maturity and strong self-control. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, you need to live by principles, which help you set up healthy boundaries in life. The sooner one reckons with this and practices, the better his or her life will become.

Peer pressure can momentarily cause us to lose sight of what we feel is right in ourselves. The more you connect with your inner self, the easier it becomes to swim against the tide. This firm grounding also trains a young person to know other people, identify toxic friendships, and make decisions about who to hang out with.

Do you have a loved one who is a young person facing peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol? Are you aware of how peer pressure works in the socialization of youth? Understanding this aspect can help you better support your loved one, whether they are resisting harmful peer pressure or trying to recover from addiction. You can also work with a professional interventionist to learn more about the social needs of recovering youth. At South Florida Intervention, our professionally-trained interventionists have helped many teens and young adults in rebuilding a healthy lifestyle and socializing experience. We are committed to walking alongside families and youth who experience this challenge in social life. Our experienced recovery coaches can connect you with trusted health professionals who offer effective treatment and therapies. In addition to recovery coaching and parent coaching, we also offer detailed case management. Early intervention is key, and we are here to help. Call us today at (202) 390-2273.