Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse: What You Should Know

by | Last updated Aug 29, 2023 | Published on Aug 8, 2023 | Substance abuse | 0 comments

peer pressure and substance abuse

Peer pressure remains the greatest accelerant to substance abuse than any other factor. With August being the back-to-school month, these peer pressures become much more pronounced, thus requiring more caution. That’s because, according to a nationwide survey, 55 percent of teens experimented with drugs due to the influence of friends. That same survey cited 70 percent of teens indulging in cigarette smoking as a result of peer pressure. It’s important to note, these peer pressures are no less prominent in adults.

Your friends, regardless of age, often reflect your habits considering we often surround ourselves with people of similar interests. Bearing that in mind, here is all you need to know about peer pressure and substance abuse.

The Freedom Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland specializes in treating individuals experiencing peer pressure and substance abuse.

What is Peer pressure?

peer pressure and substance abuse

Peer pressure is the influence of family or friends that persuade you to indulge in activities. These persuasions feed off of the humanly impulsive desire to be or feel accepted among your friends and family. Regardless of your situation, we all face peer pressure daily in some form, whether it be bad or good. How you process and react to these peer pressures is what forms your present and future habits.

How Does Peer Pressure Lead to Substance Abuse?

Peer pressure, the most common contributor to substance and alcohol abuse, does so in a variety of ways. The following instances are the most common ways peer pressure leads to substance abuse.

Bad Family Influences

The most dangerous peer pressure any young adult or child can face is the pressure from within their own home. That’s because these internal influences can often go undetected from external perception. Even worse, a child or young adult may be unaware or not care about the dangers such influences pose on their lives. Unfortunately, a bad home environment is not an uncommon factor for substance abusers.

Influences From Friends at School

Wrong influences in school are a primary destroyer of children’s and young adult’s lives. Therefore, with August being a back-to-school month, peer pressure and substance abuse will again become synonymous this school year. Help your child help themselves by getting them the proper mental strength techniques from a trained therapist.

Workplace Peer Pressure

Adults face similar struggles to make the right decisions in the workplace. It is even more common for coworkers to indulge in drinking and drugs than it is for teenagers. That’s why young adults are no less likely to acquire an addiction disorder. It is that much easier considering the lack of parental restrictions, among other factors.

Gateway Drugs

Marijuana is known as the gateway drug because that introductory form of drug use rarely stops there. All too often it leads to a gradual progression of using harder drugs that will ruin your life. What starts with seemingly ‘harmless’ marijuana often leads to a deep dark road chasing a greater high through harder substances.

Lack of Self-Confidence and Personal Direction

Individuals with high self-confidence and established direction have the maturity and wisdom to say no without fear of being accepted. That’s because people who possess these traits aren’t dependent upon others for acceptance, but on their standard for themselves.

 Giving in to peer pressure, however, is a reflection of low self-confidence and lack of personal direction. Both of which can be learned with the proper medical guidance and discretion. Take that next step by reaching out to a caring treatment assessment representative today.

What are the Risks of Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure poses numerous risks that can permanently shape the course of your future. Learning these risks and reacting proactively to them will not only positively impact your life. It can be the difference between life and death. Consequently, here are some of the serious risks of peer pressure.

Compromising Personal Integrity

Giving into peer pressure often comes at the expense of compromising personal beliefs or integrity. This can lead to even lower self-esteem and self-confidence. It also gives you a lack of direction or purpose when your values are sacrificed at the expense of peer pressure.

Job Loss

Depending on the type of persuasion, peer pressure poses a risk of losing your job. Whether it be giving in to substances, stealing, or other reasons, your influences can impact your job in irreversible ways. This is especially the case if such indulgences occur on workplace grounds. In turn, this can also affect future employment based on negative prior references.


Peer pressure can lead you down roads you never intended to go. One of those risks can lead to substance abuse and addiction. Once you develop a dependence on substances as a result of peer pressure, it’s nearly impossible to overcome without medical assistance. Our dedicated team of therapeutic specialists is standing by to guide you on the road to recovery.

Loss of Friends

Loss of friends due to peer pressure can occur in one of two ways. Firstly, caving to peer pressure can cause you to lose the positive influences who care about you most. Secondly and contrarily, refusing to cave to peer pressure can result in the loss of those negative influences you are seeking so hard to please. Though many overwhelmingly fear the latter, remember, friends that encourage substance abuse are likely not your true friends.

Permanent Health Risks

Addiction comes with heavy long-term health consequences. These consequences shorten your life and will become permanent if you refuse to remove substances from your life. If you have already developed long-term conditions as a result of substance dependency, it’s not too late to stop. Stopping now will prevent further irreparable damage to your vital organs and functions. In some cases, you can even reverse the toll of prolonged drug use.

How to Overcome Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse

Overcoming the influence of peer pressure takes individual strength and mental fortitude. Both factors are a primary attribute of the following methods to overcome peer pressure.

Set Reasonable Short-Term Goals

Instead of focusing on the bigger picture of conquering substance abuse and peer pressure altogether, set short-term goals for the here and now. That is to say, focus on having short-term victories such as saying no to peer pressure or substances this moment, hour, or day. That short-term approach will help you take baby steps toward accomplishing the bigger picture. Remember, the most powerful structures weren’t built in a day and require a strong foundation. That’s the same way your short-term goals will help solidify your stance to be strong against peer pressure temptations.

Mental Strength Training

As alluded to earlier, mental fortitude is a key attribute to standing independently and standing up to peer pressure. Medically-guided training techniques can reinforce your mental fortitude and help you rise above negative influences that ultimately lead to addiction. It’s vital to reiterate these mental strength training exercises cannot be done alone and require professional medical attention.

Change Your Influences

Peer pressure and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. Therefore, changing your surroundings means to surround yourself with positive influences that won’t try to tempt you into negative habits. Removing those temptations by having sober friends makes a world of difference in stopping addiction in its tracks and sustaining lifelong sobriety.

Learn to Say ‘No’

The biggest and most obvious reason people cave to peer pressure is the difficulty of saying ‘no’. Whether it be out of an impulsive need for acceptance or fear of confrontation, many who cave to peer pressure do so with good intentions. This, people please will often go with the crowd to appease their surroundings. However, the inability to say ‘no’ leads many individuals down a dark road of addiction.

Thankfully, professional therapy can give you the tools you need to take an independent stand for your values. Learn these independent self-help methods by speaking to a highly-trained therapist today.

Accept Medical Help

Medically-administered treatment is the most efficient way. For many, accepting medical help is the only way to overcome peer pressure and substance abuse. There’s no chance of getting medical assistance. On the contrary, accepting professional help is a testament to strength you can be proud of. The all-important first step in conquering any addiction is to get the top-quality help you need and deserve.

Acknowledge the Problem

The primary detriment to all addictions is not acknowledging there’s a problem. This denial of one’s addictive state only deepens substance abuse and can have fatal consequences. On the other hand, acknowledging the issue at hand is the most pivotal step in achieving successful and sustainable sobriety.

Let the Freedom Center Set You Free From your Addiction Struggles

Once you are honest with yourself by acknowledging the problem, the truth does set you free. That honestly releases you from the bonds of your addiction and allows our trained specialist to permanently free you from the shackles of substance dependency. There is no greater feeling than to have the burden of addiction lifted off your shoulders. Reach out to The Freedom Center now to start your journey toward sobriety today.

Written by: Nick B.

Nicholas B. is the Corporate Director of Admissions for our substance abuse and behavioral health company. Nick’s mission is to provide quality care to every person that reaches out regarding substance abuse or behavioral health questions. Knowledge of an ever-changing industry, compassion when dealing with people, and compliance in every decision are the forces that drive his personal and professional growth.

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