There are many reasons that teenagers turn to drugs or alcohol. Some individuals are just curious and want to experiment with these substances while others do so because they are uncomfortable or self-conscious. However, a large proportion of teenagers abuse substances such as alcohol or drugs because of peer pressure or bullying.
In a recent survey of young children and teenagers, it was found that children as young as eleven are already drinking alcohol and that they are five times more likely to try it if their friends are already drinking.
Most people imagine a group of teenagers egging one another on when they think of peer pressure. They assume that one person is pushed into drinking or taking drugs by a group of friends, but it is not always as obvious as this.
It could be that a group of teenagers are discussing their plans for the weekend with the majority of them saying they are going to a party and are going to be drinking. When one person says they are going to stay at home to study instead, the others will roll their eyes or whisper among themselves. The student who was planning to study may then feel under pressure to go to the party and drink just to prove how cool he or she really is.
Or it could be that everyone laughs when one teenager refuses to drink at a party. This individual may then feel embarrassed and will take the drink even if he or she really doesnâ€™t want it.
The Role of Social Media
Social media plays a huge role in peer pressure and bullying nowadays. There is no escape from pressure and bullying anymore, and the taunts are not limited to school time. It is now possible for people to post comments or indirect tweets that can have a devastating effect on a teenager and how he or she views substance use. There is also the added problem that these taunts are no longer limited to the people in school. With social media being so far-reaching, it is possible for students from a neighbouring school to get involved with bullying and peer pressure of one individual.
Standing Up to Peer Pressure and Bullying
It is easy for adults to tell teenagers to ignore the comments and taunts, but not so easy for the teenager to put this into practice. Nonetheless, most bullies are just looking for a reaction. They feed on this, so responding can often make the situation worse. In most instances, it is better to just ignore them until they get bored and move on.
If you are facing peer pressure and bullying online, the best thing to do is unfriend these people and delete any messages they send without actually reading them.
The Danger of Giving in to Peer Pressure
If you really do not want to drink alcohol or take drugs, you should stand your ground and say no. Make new friends who do not engage in these activities as you will benefit in the long run. If you do give in to peer pressure, you may find yourself struggling with a substance abuse problem that could ruin your life.
Statistics show that the earlier a person takes drugs or drinks alcohol, the higher the risk of them developing an addiction in later life. Plus, as a teenager, your brain is still developing, so taking chemical substances could affect development and lead to permanent damage.
Substance abuse also leads to a number of mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, liver disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Distance yourself from those who are pressuring you to drink or take drugs, both in person and online.