The effect peer pressure has on an individual’s drug use.
Drug abuse doesn’t just happen.
No drug (including alcohol) is immediately addiction-causing. For the vast majority of people, the drugs they do try and the wild drinking binges they might do, don’t result in addiction. But groups, that is those who cause peer pressure, do play a significant role in the start of many an addict or alcoholic’s big life misadventure.
This writer personally developed a heavy drinking habit, ironically, long after the people who pressured him into it had long since mellowed out. That’s not to say they exerted active pressure.
It’s not like some after school special on the dangers of peer pressure where they’re all like, “C’mon, man, just have a drag, you’ll feel so groovy…” Ten minutes later: “Oh no! He got so high he thought he could fly and jumped off the roof!”.
Peer pressure is often subtle.
We spend so much time warning our kids about the dangers of drugs.
There’s the former drug addict who’s funny and can do a one-man show, visiting a school and putting a performance in the auditorium about how messed up his life became. There are countless lectures and “This is your brain on drugs” videos. And there are the examples we see on the streets, well-accented men (obviously from good homes with access to excellent education and so started with life advantages), with shredded rags for clothes, who have become addicted to low-grade heroin.
So why do kids start doing drugs in the first place? Because they see their friends do it and, most importantly, they don’t often see consequences come from it. “Oh, Johnny did cocaine last week and he’s perfectly normal now.” Many people who try drugs get on with their lives and that example makes the future addict think they’ll be fine too.
It’s a form of denialism.
You might not get burnt when playing with fire, but you definitely won’t if you never play with it at all.
Students are known for experimenting with many aspects of their life at Varsity.
It’s the chance they’ve got to discover who they are and where they’re going. Unfortunately, the student lifestyle often revolves around partying and that involves drugs and binge drinking. But it seems perfectly normal for our future addict.
The problem is it sticks.
What does differentiate addiction from partying is that now the addict has an association with drugs that they aren’t that bad. So when they have a craving for it, they make use of the dealer’s number they got from the party-organizer and make a plan for a single-person soirée.
They started using drugs in a group, but now they’re using it on their own. This is where it transmutes from a party lifestyle to an everyday one.
And then, ironically, peer pressure begins to lose its influence. Most addicts know their friends wouldn’t approve of binge drinking on your own or using drugs alone or every day. So they begin to enact addict-behaviors like lying about their use of drugs; hiding their use of drugs, and pretending to be normal at quiet get-togethers when they’re actually high as a kite. They develop an ability to pull off seeming to be normal… sober.
Until the consequences start pouring in, which is where we come in. We see addicts at the end of the peer pressure journey where one of our treatment methods is to positively use peer pressure as a way to maintain sobriety.
That includes encouraging addicts and alcoholics to be part of the social networks of 12 Step Groups. These groups provide support and subtle peer pressure in a more benign way. Part of that is actually developing a system where an addict can call on help if they’re struggling with their addictive cravings.
And it all starts when you give us a call and we introduce the addict to a new way of life and a new social structure to help save their metaphorical souls from self-destruction. So peer pressure can be a good thing, too.
For more information on Addiction Treatment combatting Peer Pressure and getting yourself into rehab to start a new life, call Houghton House now:
Office hours: 011 787 9142
24/7 emergency helpline: 079 770 7532
Click on the green envelope below and fill in our contact form, and one of our professional staff members will get back to you via email or phone, respecting your anonymity at all times.