Alcohol: The Friend Factor

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Image
Teens linking arms in friendship.

Friends can influence your opinion about music, fashion—and alcohol. In this updated post from 2013, NIDA provides strategies for staying true to yourself and avoiding peer pressure.

Have you ever said “It’s not me, it’s my friends?” Turns out, this reasoning may not fly since what your friends do can have a big impact on you. Research studies show that teens whose best friends drink alcohol are twice as likely to try alcohol themselves. And, if teens get alcohol from friends, they’re more likely to start drinking at a younger age.

It’s a big deal. We know that a person who drinks alcohol early is more likely to abuse alcohol when he or she gets older.

So, if your friends drink and you don’t want to, what are you supposed to do? Get a whole new set of friends? It depends. You may find that some people believe drinking alcohol is the only way to have fun. But lots of people find other ways to enjoy themselves. If you’re not ready to give up on your friends just yet, take some time to learn a few key strategies for dealing with peer pressure.

Remember:

  • It’s brave to stand up for yourself. Be that guy or girl who doesn’t drink. It might be hard at first, but eventually people will respect you for sticking to your beliefs. You might even start to influence some of your friends to stay away from alcohol too.
  • Not everyone is doing it. In fact, according to NIDA’s 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, nearly 75% of 10th graders reported NOT using alcohol in the past month.
  • It’s okay to make up an excuse. If someone is really hounding you, dodge the issue—you could say that you took medicine that will make you sick if you drink.

If you’ve said no and your friends still don’t respect your choices, you have to ask yourself— are they really that good a friend?

Tell us: What’s your strategy for not giving in to peer pressure?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

Related Articles

Say What? “Relapse”
July 2018

A person who's trying to stop using drugs can sometimes start using them again. Fortunately, treatment can help to lower...