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Drugs & Health Blog

Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens To Try Drugs?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

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?”

Peer pressure and the brain

Peer pressure can influence teens' choices about a lot of things. 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.

Taking control of your choices

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’s 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 posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


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
Well some of us have been through stuff like being in a verbal abusive family.So our self a steam
Plz....dnt 4get dat we are future leaders of tmr,so stay away frm drugs.stay away frm bad frnds...lets collect ourselfs plz!
wow..... nice message, but it's sad that you don't know how to spell. but I don't blame it on you. I just blame society. But seriously though, I actually really like your message.
drugs are bad dude
nah chill wit dat
yeah giid bad durgs
i recently fell prey to peer pressure and tried morphine now my school life is messed up and i face charges that are very serious, i regret the decision with all my heart
Yeah drugs are not cool guys you are only decreasing your life span just get a hobby and you shall be fine
What about natural highs

Hi Ginger, you can read about why people say some hobbies, like running, are a "natural high" here:

drugs may seem cool but its just a gateway to destruction
do drugs kids
weed is the best thing that happen to me im now a stock broker . its all about how you use it
I'm very proud to say that I helped my daughter overcome her drug addiction. She ate a frog, now people call her frog spawn mama :(
Some people I know have been trying pressure me into doing drugs and get high I've always been really good about saying no but when I'm consistently singled out about it and asked why won't I do it?? Or why haven't I done it yet?? It starts to get annoying and no matter what I say they eventually come at me again. There is more behind the story then they know of why I won't do it but Id rather not tell them but if that's what it will take to get them to shut up about it should I?? It's more then religious beliefs and morals. I like these people and have nothing against people who do weed and such but they just don't know when to stop and accept that I'm not interested. But trying to figure out ways to trick me into it or just bugging me til I do is getting old.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like these people are very good friends. Friends should care enough about you to accept that you don't want to do drugs, and they definitely shouldn't pressure you or trick you into doing them! Is there someone else you can talk to, maybe a parent or school counselor or friends who don't do drugs? If you aren't sure what to do or just need to talk to someone, you can always call or chat the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which deals with a lot of issues, not just suicide prevention):

thanks to this ! :)
why do people take drugs if its bad for them. And if any of u guys do it u need to stop