Helping Teens Navigate Peer Pressure and Say No to Drinking

Teenagers are likely to encounter situations where their friends or peers encourage them to drink alcohol. Peer pressure can be intense, and it’s important to understand how to handle these situations to make informed decisions about alcohol.

Peer pressure is the influence exerted by those around you to conform to certain behaviors, attitudes, or actions. When it comes to alcohol, it’s essential to recognize that giving in to peer pressure without considering the consequences can have a significant negative impact on your health and well-being. 

Never feel like you HAVE to give in when feeling pressured.  

If your friends or peers don’t like your decision to not drink, that’s okay.  Your peers don’t have to like or approve of the decisions you make.  After all, they are YOUR decisions.

The teenage years, and even early adulthood, can be a rollercoaster ride.  Between school, grades, hormones, body changes, friend groups, the pressures of daily life, and navigating plans for your future, it can certainly feel like a lot! 

Alcohol can find its way into the picture, promising excitement, a good time, and relief from all the pressure. Drinking is glamorized in our society – by adults, commercials, and ads – as a way to have a good time and have fun.  But the reality of drinking is quite different. Instead of adding to the fun, alcohol will begin to negatively impact your life in ways you might not have expected. 

Here are some key points to keep in mind when faced with peer pressure to drink alcohol:

Understand the Risks

There are significant risks and harms associated with drinking before your brain is fully developed, which doesn’t happen until around the age of 25. Alcohol impairs judgment, leads to poor decision-making, and increases the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors, just to name a few.  Drinking alcohol has serious consequences on your physical, emotional, and mental health.  This includes feelings of depression and anxiety the next day.

Be True to Yourself

Stay true to your values and beliefs. It’s okay to say no and decline a drink. Actually, that’s the best and safest decision.  Studies show that drinking, particularly underage drinking, causes the brain to shrink, making it harder to control impulses and make smart decisions.  Surround yourself with friends who respect your decisions and support you in making healthy choices.  That’s a good rule for success in life at any age.

Assertiveness and Communication

Practice being assertive with a family member or in the mirror so you feel more comfortable taking this action when needed.  Speak your decision to not drink with confidence.  Remember, saying “no” is a complete sentence.  Also, consider leaving a party or situation or disappearing to the bathroom to call someone to pick you up. 

Trust Your Instincts

Trust your instincts and listen to your inner voice. If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, act on that feeling and remove yourself from that environment. Your safety and well-being are your top priority.

Seek Support

Build a network of supportive peers who share similar values and interests as yours. Having friends who are also committed to making responsible choices about alcohol can provide a sense of belonging and make it easier to resist negative peer pressure.  You can also ask your parents or someone you trust for help.  Calling or texting a parent or someone who can come and pick you up in a pinch is helpful.  Work out a plan with your parent or caregiver ahead of time so you can feel confident and at ease, should the awkward peer pressure happen.  It’s best to be prepared with a plan!  True friends will respect your choices and support you.   

Note:

If you’re seeking resources to support your personal growth and well-being, Rock and Glow offers a wealth of incredible resources specifically designed for teens like you. They provide valuable connections, guidance, coaching, and a range of passion-driven opportunities such as creative arts training and much more. Learn more about Rock and Glow’s resources for teens here.

 

Final Thoughts

You have the power to make decisions that align with your values and aspirations.  It may feel awkward to decline the offer to drink alcohol the first time, but it gets easier with practice.  Putting off drinking until the age of 21 is best for your overall happiness, safety, and well-being.

If you find yourself struggling with peer pressure or facing challenges related to alcohol, don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted adults, such as parents, teachers, and counselors or get professional help. They are there to help guide and support you through these situations.

 

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