NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
Find NIDA for Teens on: NIDAnews on Twitter NIDANIH on YouTube NIDANIH on Facebook
Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens To Try Drugs?

Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens To Try Drugs?

You are here

Sara Bellum
May 08, 2012

During NIDA’s most recent Drug Facts Chat Day,“Kid” from Totino-Grace High School in Minnesota, asked: “Why is peer pressure such a huge factor in teens’ temptations [to experiment with] drugs and alcohol?”

Risk Versus Reward

New research shows that, when making a decision, teens think about both the risks and rewards of their actions and behaviors—but, unlike adults, teens are more likely to ignore the risk in favor of the reward.

In a NIDA-funded study, teens driving with their friends in the car were more likely to take risks—like speeding through yellow lights—if they knew that two or more of their friends were watching. Teens were also significantly more likely to act this way than adults in the same experiment.

Researchers monitored the brain activity of all the teen drivers in the study. Results showed that just knowing friends were watching activated brain regions linked with reward, especially when the teen drivers made risky decisions.

So, be aware: The desire to impress your friends may override your fear of taking risks. This could also apply to deciding whether to try drugs or alcohol—your decision might be influenced by who is around and if you think they’d be impressed.

Tell us: When you already know the risks, yet you want to impress your friends, do you run the light or slow down and stop? Do you accept a drink or turn it down? Do you go with the crowd or be your own person and impress others with your individuality? What are some ways you could put the brakes on long enough to think twice before making a decision to do something you know is risky?

Comments

So, after falling prey to peer pressure and getting into weed, I'm beginning my journey towards recovery. I will be going to [commercial link removed, per guidelines] to get help for my addiction. If you are thinking of doing pot, I can only say don't start. My life has been totally wrecked by the drug, even though it was supposed to be "harmless". I'm a senior and I'm going to be able to graduate with my class because the rehab I'm going to offers classes, but this isn't the way I anticipated finishing high school...

good for you jason...i'm really glad you're over it...it destroys lives and families....nice that you're on the road to recovery!!
When i was in high school i NEVER done ANY recreational drugs. Period. No cannibis, cocaine, methamphetamine, or any drugs that will ruin your life. Not even smoking. I am aware of the Medical uses of cannabis, but still...
Marijuana is not addicting.....
yes it is additing
Because it had no addictive properties or chemicals? Neither does alcohol, or sex, or gambling, etc. The most common misunderstanding is that people can only become addicted to properties within the vice being abused, but it's such a shallow and misinformed assumption. Addiction ultimately comes from the FEELINGS a vice gives a person, it's mental, not physical.

thats great Jason!! i hope you stay clean!! and im almost done with highschool and drugs messed up my life... i have been clean for 6 months!! if there is anyway u wanna talk to me more and get to know eachother let me know.. i love helping other people

good job jason have a good life

Jason, you're already on track by making this choice. Graduate and move on to better things that you will find for your life -drug free is the way!

And don't beat yourself up, we all learn lessons through our entire life, glad you're learning it right now!

its great that u saw your mistakes early enough to change.good luck with everything else.

So Great To Hear That Jason!

good job

Student 1- I dont think that the yellow light is a good analogy for taking risks because its not as dangerous nor is it illegal.

Student 2- The yellow light is a good comparison because some people do actually "fall for it" and choose to take the drugs rather than stopping at a red light and saying no.

Student 3 - Evaluate your risk before you choose.

im so glad that your making the right choice and giving up weed it is a serious drug and dont beat yourself up about it its ok that you caught yourself early before it became a problem with the law good job jason

I'm just starting high school, and already i can see that a lot of my former friends have fallen victim to drugs, smoking and sex. It makes me so sad to see all of them ruining their lives like that, and
I just want to help them but i don't know how. So I've been looking into why they got into it. And i believe this article has helped me better understand why, and how to make sure my current friends don't make the same mistake. So thank you author :)

durgs r bad fr u [name removed, per guidelines]
It's amazing how we so easily state that only youth ignore risks in lieu of rewards. Corruption in government, business and life all stems from ignoring risks in lieu of rewards. And adults do this so much better than our children and youth. Had it occurred to anyone that our children and youth learn from adults? The continuing to allow tobacco, alcohol and other drugs to be accessible to our youth is an adult's risk taking in hopes of increased and continued profit. Inadequate enforcement of youth access laws that allow youth to purchase substances they should not have access to is also and adult's risk taking. We know the outcomes and we know the causes of these outcomes. When will be take on the courage to admit that our risk taking (if that's what we're calling it), has a much greater impact on our youth than peer pressure ever will.
I would honestly say not to do drugs don't start it don't get into it, it messed my life up with my friendships and everything else. now watching all of my old friends run around getting drunk and smoking just makes me upset that I wouldnt want anyone else in that position.
this is awesome info guys and girls
true
Why don't teens look at the bad side as much, I wouldn't do that, and I'm a teen!! :(
stay clean
Be mindful of the friends in high school that bring you down. Remember that misery enjoys company. Rise above and stay focused on setting goals for yourself. You will look back and see that you were a healthy role model of what a teenager looks like who did not fall prey to peer pressure.
thast so great, good job
This generation works on momentary pleasure principle........ Failing to understand how small or how big is THE MOMENT !!!
Drugs will mess up your life bigtime! I was delivering drugs for a so called friend and someone told on me. Now i am suspended for 11days and have to take those stupid drug classes! Wasnt even planning on raking the drugs.
Why don't teens look at the bad side as much, I wouldn't do that, and I'm a teen!! :(
thanx this has helped soooo much with hw
thankuu this has helped soo much with homework!!
The world of nowadays has made d ABNORMAL seem NORMAL and everyone has accepted it dat way failling to see d consequences. But deres still hope for us cos we have christ. Lets know dat jesus is d supreme way and without him there is no other way out. I admonish u not to join d world in their evil cos dey wud certainly av their reward. But rather live for christ for ur reward wud b bountiful. THANKS.
Kids start drugs because they want to try fitting in with other groups and be cool and maybe possible to get a relationship with another guy. But it won't matter because it just causes worst things to you and your life. It can also affect your behavior in school and can drive people away from you, and the people you love most. So don't take drugs it is bad for you. Thank you
teenegers must be strong and have high self a steam

Add new comment