Fortunately, there are several techniques that people in all situations and stages of life can implement to remain clean even in the face of peer pressure.
Learn to Recognize Peer Pressure
It can be tough for people to fight back against peer pressure if they don’t know how to recognize it.
While peer pressure can sometimes be positive, when most people talk about this issue and how it relates to drugs, they’re usually referring to the negative peer pressure encouraging drug use. Even people with strong desires and convictions to stay away from drugs may be swayed by this type of pressure.
While every circumstance is different, some of the main reasons individuals give in to peer pressure include:
- Uncertainty about how to get out of an uncomfortable situation
- Need to fit in with a crowd
- Unwillingness to hurt a friend’s feelings
- Fear of rejection
Sometimes friends may exhibit unspoken, or indirect, peer pressure. This can occur when a recovering drug abuser is simply around other people who use drugs regularly. Even though those users may not be intentionally encouraging a former abuser to join in, if the individual feels tempted by their activity, it still counts as a form of peer pressure encouraging drug use. It’s useful for friends, family members, and acquaintances to remain educated on this topic.
Of course, it’s most vital for people with drug abuse problems to recognize the types of peer pressure encouraging drug use and understand the reasons they might give in to these pressures. Having this awareness helps individuals to fight back against these feelings so they can remain clean over the long term.
Prepare for Dealing With Peer Pressure Encouraging Drug Use
Recovering drug abusers often have a good idea of where they might encounter instances of peer pressure. Often there’s a specific group of friends or family members who still regularly use drugs and who are likely to encourage former users to join in.
Another idea is to prepare an exit strategy to escape from troublesome scenarios. For example, if a recovering drug abuser is a gathering of friends who are still using, that person can have one or more go-to excuses ready just in case the pressure becomes too difficult to handle.
Another way to get ready for a situation like this is by simply bringing along a friend who can serve as an advocate. While the friend won’t be necessarily be policing drug activity at the gathering, that person can provide indirect support as another drug-free individual.
Eliminate Ongoing Sources of Peer Pressure
If a group of friends or family members continues to be a source of peer pressure for a person with drug abuse problems, that individual may have no choice but to reduce the amount of time spent with those people or to stop spending time with them altogether. While this may seem like a harsh step, it’s often necessary. Continuing to be exposed to these high-risk situations could lead to a relapse.
Many people with drug abuse problems find that if they explain the situation to their friends and family members, some of the individuals who were initially guilty of peer pressure may change their tunes and offer to adjust their behavior.
However, if this isn’t the case, it is certainly worth it for recovering drug abusers to cut ties as necessary and pursue their own paths to clean and healthy living.
Develop New Peer Groups
One of the best ways for former users to resist temptation from peer pressure is by seeking out new social groups that consist of like-minded people who are also dedicated to drug-free lifestyles.
Whether it’s a sports league, a formal group for recovering abusers or simply stronger ties within current social groups, the idea is to remain occupied with positive activities. The more free time former drug abusers have, the more likely they are to return to familiar situations and crowds that may be rife with peer pressure.
Seek Professional Help
While all these tips can be helpful for keeping a former drug abuser away from peer pressure, sometimes professional help may be the best option.
Numerous treatment centers provide aftercare services, which encompass any programs that are offered to people who have already finished a regular course of treatment.
These services may include:
- Additional counseling sessions
- 12-step program meetings
- Substance-free residential living
- Family counseling
- Relapse prevention classes
- and much more
These offerings not only give former users strategies for dealing with peer pressure, but they can also teach family members and friends to show support in the fight against peer pressure and other temptations.
Moving Past Peer Pressure
While peer pressure can be difficult to resist, the fact is most recovering drug users successfully overcome this challenge at some point during recovery. Dealing with peer pressure is something that requires self-control to avoid relapse.