August is Back to School: How to Avoid Peer Pressure with Drugs and Substance Abuse

August is Back to School: How to Avoid Peer Pressure with Drugs and Substance Abuse

It’s that time of year again. Parents are preparing to send their kids off to college. As their kids look forward to the next chapter in life, parents worry about the party scene and peer pressure with drugs.

Unfortunately, substance abuse is common among college students.Using drugs and alcohol can interfere with academic performance, decrease the chances of employment, and lead to mental and physical health issues.

August is an excellent time to talk to your college students about how to avoid peer pressure and substance abuse. This guide can help parents teach their young adults to avoid engaging in peer pressure revolving around alcohol and substance abuse. If your child struggles with alcohol or drug use, Free By The Sea has a specialty program to offer addiction rehab for young adults. This will set your young adult back on track and help them onto a path for success.

What is the Relationship Between Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse?

Peer pressure significantly influences substance abuse, especially in young adults. Peer pressure is when friends or people of the same age influence the attitudes, behaviors, and decision-making processes of others.

Your student may try drugs or alcohol because their friends are doing it, and they want to fit in. Peer pressure can convince your teen that using drugs or alcohol is normal or ok at this age. Understanding the intricate link between peer pressure and substance abuse sheds light on how young adults navigate social reinforcement, group identity, and their personal responses to societal norms.

Initiation of Substance Abuse

Young adults are susceptible to peer pressure as they look for acceptance from their peers. Sometimes they experiment with drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure from friends already abusing substances. While your kid may initially be reluctant, the desire to fit in can lead to them abusing substances.

Normalizing Substance Abuse

Peer pressure can make substance abuse appear normal or a “right of passage” for young adults in college. As a result, they are more likely to use drugs or alcohol to follow their friend’s behavior. This is how peer pressure may lead to underage drinking.

Social Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement from peers who are also using substances can further encourage continued substance abuse. If your college student receives approval or social rewards from their friends for using drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to continue engaging in such behavior.

Accessibility and Availability

Peers may also play a role in providing access to drugs or alcohol. Being in the company of peers with easy access to substances can increase the likelihood of trying and using them.

Group Identity and Belonging

Substance abuse can become intertwined with group identity. Young adults may feel a stronger sense of belonging to a certain group through shared substance-related experiences. The fear of losing friends can be a strong motivator to continue engaging in substance abuse.

Peer Norms

Perceptions of what is considered acceptable behavior among peers can heavily influence a person’s decision to use substances. If substance use is perceived as the norm, they may feel compelled to conform to avoid being left out.

It’s important to know that not all teens and young adults give in to peer pressure. Factors such as personality, self-esteem, personal values, and upbringing affect how your student may respond to peer pressure. In our family education and support program for addiction, our team can address issues that may lead to substance abuse and help your student avoid consequences of peer pressure.

Why Might a College Student Abuse Drugs or Alcohol?

College students may abuse drugs or alcohol for various reasons. These reasons are influenced by their unique experiences and circumstances during this stage in life. Some common causes include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Academic pressure and stress
  • Curiosity and experimentation
  • Escape from problems
  • Entertainment
  • Social norms
  • Experimenting with freedom
  • Mental health issues
  • Addiction or dependence

Talking with your young adult about how to avoid peer pressure and substance abuse can help lower the risk of them falling victim to peer pressure of using drugs.

What is the Social Learning Theory?

how to avoid peer pressure

The Social Learning Theory, proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura, is a theory that emphasizes the role of observational learning, modeling, and imitation in shaping human behavior.

This theory suggests that people learn not only through direct experiences but also by observing the actions and behaviors of others in their social environment. The core concepts of the Social Learning Theory are:

  • Observational Learning (Modeling) – people learn by watching others
  • Modeling and Imitation – people imitate behaviors perceived as relevant or rewarding
  • Reinforcement and Punishment – behaviors with negative consequences are less likely to be repeated
  • Reciprocal Determinism – the behavior, individual, and environment all influence each other
  • Self-Efficacy – a person’s belief in their ability to do something successfully; higher self-efficacy increases motivation, effort, and persistence
  • Vicarious reinforcement – people learn from the consequences experienced by others

The Social Learning Theory emphasizes the interactive nature of learning, where individuals actively observe, interpret, and incorporate behaviors and information from their surroundings to shape their own actions and behaviors.

What are Some Different Types of Peers?

Peers are people who are similar in age, status, or background to oneself. Within this broad category are different types of peers based on various criteria. Here are some examples:

  • School peers
  • Neighborhood peers
  • Online peers
  • Workplace peers
  • Close friends
  • Casual friends
  • Academic peers
  • Social peers
  • Support peers
  • Mentors
  • Role models
  • Negative peers

How Can Parents Be Aware of Their Young Adults While They Are Attending School?

Being aware of your young adult while they are attending school is crucial for their well-being, academic success, and overall development. Here are some tips for parents to stay informed and engaged with their young adults during their school years:

Open Communication

Establish and maintain open lines of communication with your young adult. Encourage them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about school, classes, and friendships.

Ask Questions

Ask specific questions about their day, classes, assignments, and extracurricular activities. Show genuine interest in their lives and listen actively to their responses.

Stay Informed about School Activities

Stay informed about school events, important dates, and academic requirements. This will help you engage with your young adult’s school life and support them appropriately.

Encourage Goal Setting

Help your young adult set realistic academic and personal goals. Offer guidance on how to achieve those goals and celebrate their achievements.

Monitor Academic Performance

Keep track of their grades and academic progress. If you notice any significant changes or struggles, address the issues proactively and consider seeking additional support if necessary.

Stay Connected through Technology

Use technology to stay connected, especially if they are away for school. Regular phone calls, video chats, or messaging can help you stay updated on their well-being.

Discuss Time Management

Encourage effective time management skills to balance academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities, and leisure time. Offer strategies for staying organized and prioritizing tasks.

Be Supportive and Encouraging

Offer support and encouragement in their academic pursuits and personal endeavors. Let them know you are proud of their efforts and achievements.

Discuss Peer Pressure and Well-Being

Have open conversations about peer pressure, mental health, and well-being. Encourage them to talk about any challenges they may be facing and provide resources if needed.

Respect their Independence

Recognize that young adults are transitioning to more independence. Respect their choices and decisions while offering guidance when appropriate.

Visit their Campus

If your young adult attends a college or university nearby, consider visiting their campus occasionally. This will provide an opportunity to see their living environment and engage with their school community.

Every young adult is different. The key is to balance being supportive and allowing them to explore their independence. By being involved and attentive, you can play a crucial role in helping your young adult navigate their college years successfully.

5 Tips on How to Avoid Peer Pressure and Say No to Drugs

Avoiding peer pressure and saying no to drugs as a young adult can be challenging. But it’s essential for your well-being and long-term goals. Here are five tips to help you navigate these situations confidently:

Know Your Values and Boundaries

Understanding your values and what you stand for can provide a strong foundation for resisting peer pressure and substance abuse. Set clear boundaries regarding drug use and other activities that go against your principles.

Practice Assertiveness

Learn to say “no” firmly and confidently when faced with peer pressure with drugs. Practice assertive responses in advance so you feel prepared to decline without feeling guilty or uncomfortable.

Choose Your Social Circle Wisely

Surround yourself with friends who share similar values and respect your choices. Having a supportive and like-minded peer group can make it easier to resist negative peer pressure and substance abuse.

Plan Ahead for Challenging Situations

Anticipate situations where you might encounter drugs or peer pressure. Prepare responses in advance to say no, so you’re not caught off guard and feel more in control of your decisions.

Seek Support and Allies

Talk to supportive family members, mentors, or friends about your commitment to avoiding drugs. Having allies who understand and respect your choices can offer encouragement and reinforcement in challenging moments.

If you find yourself in situations where you feel overwhelmed by peer pressure and substance abuse, consider using the “broken record” technique. Repeat your refusal to accept drugs calmly and consistently without getting into arguments or explanations. This approach can help you stand your ground and reduce the pressure to give in.

Free By The Sea Can Assist Young Adults Struggling With Alcohol or Substance Abuse

peer pressure and substance abuse

Resisting peer pressure and substance abuse can be difficult, but it should make you feel good. However, if you give in and find yourself struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we offer substance abuse rehab.

The first step is wanting to get better. If you are committed to making a change, Free By The Sea is here to support you in your journey. Our programs have helped countless young adults leave treatment sober and confident in continuing their journey.

Our treatment specialists are available 24/7 to answer questions from parents and young adults struggling with how to avoid peer pressure and substance abuse, along with substance abuse treatment options. Contact us today to learn more.

Get in touch with Free by the Sea

(844) 906-2300

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