Peer Pressure and Substance Use
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Peers are part of the same social group, but peer pressure indicates what influence people have on one another.
Peer pressure is not always negative, but it often can be.
Typically peer pressure has to do with being influenced to participate in drug use, alcohol use, or behavior that is not socially acceptable.
Peer Pressure in College
When discussing peer pressure, it is often regarding young people because they are often in circles with similarly minded and similarly aged individuals, creating a strong peer pressure ability.
College-aged kids are most at risk for peer pressure that pushes them to abuse substances.
Window of Vulnerability
College-age is described as the “window of vulnerability” because alcohol consumption dramatically increases at this time and becomes a substantial social component of college life.
There will be considerable changes in their lives, which increases the risk of alcohol use. There have been enormous consequences due to problematic drinking on college campuses. Because of this, it is vital to educate young adults and target college students for overusing alcohol.
Drugs and Peer Pressure
Peer pressure works similarly with drugs as it does with alcohol. Although legally, alcohol is more acceptable and popular than illicit drug use, it still occurs. Drugs are linked to illegal activity and they carry more consequences coming from outside the social group.
The way drugs are perceived can change the way peer pressure works. With extreme drugs, it does reduce the chance of getting into harder drugs.
Peer pressure in terms of drugs can lead to dangerous short-term behavior and eventually push for long-lasting, detrimental habits.
Peer Pressure in Adolescence
Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure because they will often be at a stage in their lives where they are looking for more personal space and separating from parents’ influence and establishing their own views. The issue with this is that they have not yet established their own values and typically do not understand human relationships or consequences.
Additionally, adolescents are often striving to be accepted socially, meaning they are often willing to engage in different behaviors against what they should be doing. Despite this, adults are often easily manipulated into peer pressure. Some adults drink solely because they need to be social or feel they will “fit in”.
Effects of Peer Pressure on Addiction
Peer pressure causes you to do things that you usually would not do. Although you may be trying to fit in, it can include things that you shouldn’t be doing, like binge drinking, experimenting with drugs, or participating in risky behavior.
The desire to impress peers sometimes overrides your rational thoughts. If you engage in risky behaviors, you are at risk for:
- alcohol or drug poisoning
- driving under the influence
- sexually transmitted diseases
Types of Peer Pressure
Positive Peer Pressure
There is not only negative peer pressure but also positive. Positive peer pressure might influence a young person to become involved in sports. This involvement could be positive, and eventually, lead to a lifelong enjoyment of exercise.
Negative Peer Pressure
Unfortunately, the same peer pressure that can lead you to enjoy sports can also lead to putting exercise and competition above all else. This same idea will lead to addiction. Rather than an exercise addiction, it can lead to drug and alcohol addiction to fit in. Ultimately you will use them to cope with life stressors once your “peers” are gone.
Mental Illness and Addiction
There is a connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances. Overall mental health patients are responsible for consuming around 40% of alcohol and drugs. Half of all people with a mental health condition will also struggle with an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are often used to self-medicate, but they do little to address the underlying mental health condition. Even if you do obtain treatment for your addiction, if you do not treat your mental health disorder symptoms, you will never be able to achieve proper recovery.
The Dangers of Self-Medicating
One of the most common issues connecting mental illness and substance abuse is that patients self-medicate to soothe their symptoms. These mental health symptoms might be uncomfortable, but it is a sign of a larger problem.
Examples of self-medicating include:
- depressed individuals using marijuana to feel better
- drinking to feel more comfortable and less anxious in social situations
- someone who struggles with panic attacks taking benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, to stop attacks, leading to addiction
- those with low energy may take Adderall or another stimulant to increase drive
Dangers of Dual Diagnosis
When there is a dual diagnosis, you have both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse issue. If this is the case, it means that you must address both issues. If you do not, then the mental health disorder symptoms might push you to relapse.
Overall, untreated substance abuse issues can make mental health treatment ineffective, while not treating a mental disorder can cause problems in treating your substance abuse issue.
Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment includes different therapies in a treatment setting. You will often visit the treatment center three to four times per week, for two to three hours per session. Included in outpatient treatment usually consists of the following:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Multidimensional family therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Contingency management
Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment can be highly effective, especially if you are struggling with co-occurring disorders or a severe use disorder. Inpatient treatment facilities offer 24-hour care programs. You will live at the treatment center and learn to live a drug-free, crime-free lifestyle. Examples of residential treatment settings include:
- Therapeutic communities: These are incredibly structured programs that require you to live at a residence. These last anywhere from six to 12 months and help those in the facility to work together. You will learn about everything related to drug or alcohol use, including attitudes, understanding, and behaviors.
- Residential treatment: Typically, this form of treatment focuses on detoxification. It also provides intensive counseling and preparation for treatment, but in a community-based setting for anywhere from 30-90 days.
- Recovery housing: Following inpatient or outpatient treatment, recovery housing gives you a sober place to live, which can help you transition to an independent life outside of treatment.
Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it? We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.
How to Get Help
At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand how difficult it can be to avoid peer pressure, especially when it involves substance use.
Our dedicated team will help you customize a treatment plan to help you heal from your addiction.
Our goal is for you to leave Resurgence Behavioral Health with mental fortitude and coping skills to maintain lifelong sobriety.
Call Resurgence Behavioral Health at (855) 458-0050 to schedule an appointment.
We challenge you to make a fresh start with us today.