5 ways to empower yourself and say no to peer pressure

Given the complex structure of peer pressure, there are five proven ways that any teen can just say “No,” to drug dealers - that actually work.The moment children begin interacting with each other is the moment that the threat of peer pressure begins. The temptation can start with, “Let’s go play kickball!” or better yet, “Let’s color instead of reading.”

While it might not be as noticeable in elementary school, it becomes extremely prevalent during middle school and high school. At this time, teens are in a phase where they seek approval from those around them.

For example, if one of their friends is doing something, teens can feel a powerful need to fit in and be part of the crowd. The feeling that everyone must do it is powerful during this phase. It is during that time that the threat of potential underage drinking, illegal drugs and dangerous sexual activity increases. The influence of peer pressure during this time has been validated by numerous clinical studies.

According to a study by the Department of Psychology at Temple University, professor Jason M. Chein stated, “the results expand our understanding of the mechanisms through which teenagers are influenced by their friends to engage in health compromising behavior, and thus have the potential to inform strategies for intervening to reduce adolescent risk taking.”

It’s imperative that as children grow up in an environment where society seeks approval not from oneself but from those around, to teach them how to properly say, “No.” While many programs across the United States, such as D.A.R.E, are meant to guide children and teach them, it has been proven to be counterproductive.

In the past, programs led by adults like D.A.R.E. have gained little to no involvement from students or even peer leaders, thus giving student participants very little opportunity to gain experience saying, “No,” under the supervision of caring and qualified adults.

In order to teach teens how to effectively communicate the message of “No,” they must be taught at their level, by instructors at that same level. Given the complex structure of peer pressure, there are five proven ways that any teen can just say “No,” to drug dealers – that actually work.


1. The assertive method

Many cases of peer pressure come from another individual who is demanding in demeanor and assertive in the tone of voice. One of the most powerful ways a teen can assert themselves is to say, “No.” The word alone serves as a tool to help young adults become less victimized by peer pressure. Michele Borba, EdD, author of “12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know,” has said, “When individual is confident in his or her responses, those around naturally and instinctively respect the individual more. In doing so, the ‘No’ will be heard.”


2. Practice makes perfect

One of the biggest faults of the peer pressure prevention program, D.A.R.E. is the lack of communication between the young adults in the program. In the D.A.R.E. program, there is very little attention paid to the simple fact that teens do not have the courage to actually say, “No.” As a result, they fall prey to peers out of fear rather than a desire to stay sober. In order to prevent this from happening, there must be numerous opportunities for young adults to practice “No” exercises in the company of adults.  


3. The Get Up & Go method

A lot of teenagers feel as if they don’t have a choice. In fact, many teens feel stuck during high peer pressure situations. Adults know that one surefire way to quickly end an unpleasant situation is to just leave, but young adults simply haven’t had the experience to tell them when to get up & go away. Teaching teens to identify when they are unhappy and want to leave helps them to know it is OK to be bold and walk away.

According to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, “If you think the others are going to do something you don’t want to be involved in, just leave. You can make up an excuse, or you can say nothing at all. If you lead the way, others may follow.” This step requires courage. Walk your teen through the steps of identifying troublesome situations, and when the right time is to leave, so they know how to just get up & go.


4. The excuse method

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens states, “A lot of the time, a simple ‘no thanks’ may not be enough.” To prevent any potentially awkward situations with friends, the NIDA suggests to make an excuse. For example: “I have to study for a big test, or I have tickets to a concert.” The truth is that if teens are pressuring another teen to do something they don’t feel comfortable doing, they are not a friend. This is a valuable lesson for kids at any age, but vital to teens during this high-pressure phase of life.


5. The jokester method

It has been said that laughter is the best medicine, and it is. This includes curing peer pressure! A joke is a great way to reject the pressure of becoming less popular, or not fitting in. It is also a great way to save face in front of bullying peers, and also helps to reduce stress levels for your teen during any high-pressure situation. Through making light, teens may be able to defuse the situation and move forward, without causing any social awkwardness.


A final note: The powerful choice of positive friends

There is strength in numbers, but in the moment, teens oftentimes feel frustrated or anxious by the overwhelming power of peer pressure. While it can be almost impossible to get peer support, teens who surround themselves with other people their age who make good choices are more likely to successfully say, “No.” The truth is a powerful thing, but it can be hard to stand alone. Teaching teens the power of positive, supportive friends is a great way to help them avoid the pitfalls of peer pressure so they can say, “No,” and mean it. Remember: there is strength in numbers.


Did You Know an Addiction Can be Caused by a Mental Disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.


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