The phrases many remember from their child hoods include: “Don’t do drugs,” “Drugs are bad,” “Just say no and walk away.” But these public service announcements breaking up class or interrupting a Saturday morning cartoon marathon may not work so well in a real situation.
If everyone else is doing it …
Not all public service announcements are ineffective, they just may not convey a method teens can incorporate into their own school experiences. Peer pressure is a strong source for teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age. The desire to be involved and part of the crowd, drives teenagers to take harmful risks with substance abuse.
Parents fear their child or teen could be influenced to abuse substances in school and they are not entirely wrong. The National Alliance on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, measured the common drugs abused by teenagers through the Monitoring the Future Study. In 2015, around 64 percent of 12th graders abused alcohol, 31 percent smoked cigarettes, and at least 44 percent abused marijuana. Teens may partake in these substances because everyone else is doing it and to avoid judgment from the others.
Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., and Kathryn C. Monahan Ph.D., from the Department of Psychology at Temple University conducted a study on the effects of peer pressure on varying ages of teenagers. Steinberg and Monahan found, “The period between 10 and 14 [years of age] is the time during which adolescents express strivings for emotional autonomy most strongly.” Since the adolescent is fighting for independence from the parents, teenagers become more susceptible to peer pressure with other teenagers.
The search for belonging leads to teenagers relying on friends for connection instead of their parents. Regardless of the age, parents can find ways to help their teenager deal with peer pressure and lead a substance-abuse-free life.
Facing the masses
The place to arm teenagers with the skills to stand up to peer pressure begins with a conversation at home. This conversation about the dangers of drugs and alcohol needs to be done right.
Fortunately, Mayo Clinic offers advice on how to inform teenagers about drugs and substance abuse in an effective manner. When informing teenagers about drugs and substance abuse Mayo Clinic advises to be honest and, “Avoid long, boring lectures, Instead, listen to your teen’s opinions and questions about drug use.” Encouraging the teenager to be open about his or her thoughts on drugs will help bring up the current experiences of the teen at school.
Mayo Clinic advises to “Emphasize how drug use can affect things important to your teen.” If a teenager is struggling at school due to peer pressure, “Brainstorm with your teen about how to turn down offers of drugs,” Mayo Clinic explains,
Unfortunately, some teenagers are unable to face peer pressure and succumb to substance abuse. Teenagers may need a change of scenery to stop abusing substances and begin rehabilitation. The Rancho San Diego Sovereign Health facility specializes in personalized treatment for teenagers aged 12 to 17 dealing with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Call our 24/7 helpline for more details.
Written by Nick Adams Sovereign Health Group writer