How Do You Avoid Peer Pressure?

By Melanie Graysmith

Although you feel confident in your decision not to use drugs or alcohol, there is a lot of peer pressure out there, even for someone as strong-willed as you. While peer influence plays a positive role in the social and emotional development of kids and teens, it is also true that peers can have a negative influence as well.

It can be hard to avoid pressure from a friend offering a way to fit in, and California’s legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana may give a false sense of assuming that it’s no big deal. But remember, state law restricts recreational cannabis use to persons 21 years or over, along with a slew of sale and use regulations that carry heavy penalties if not followed. There are plenty of good reasons teens wanting to keep their futures bright should steer clear of weed—chief among them is the way THC negatively impacts the developing adolescent brain—but there are also many short-term consequences. In California, smoking pot can get you a $100 infraction, mandatory community service, drug counseling or a misdemeanor, in some cases.

So how do you assert yourself and stay with your decision to abstain without making a big deal about it? Try these proven tips to help take the pressure off on those times when a direct “no thanks” is not enough.

  1. If you have your license, offer to be the designated driver. Everyone will appreciate the fact that you’re offering them a safe ride home.
  2. When out with friends or at a party, have a bottled or canned drink, like soda, juice, ice tea or mineral water with you to help keep the pressure to drink alcohol at bay. With something to drink in your hand you are less likely to be offered an alcoholic drink, and can just say, “I’m good” if you need to say no.
  3. Build a reputation that you never smoke anything, as you are prone to bronchitis or are getting over a sore throat.
  4. If you are on a sports team or preparing for an event, let everyone know you are into staying healthy to increase your competitive edge. No arguments there.
  5. Say you need to get up early the following morning to take a big test, drive to a family event, or other activity that needs your full mental focus.
  6. Do something to look busy. Get up and dance, engage in a conversation, offer to DJ, or sing your heart out at karaoke. Basically, divert your friends’ attention off of you since you are already busy doing your own thing, and they should leave you alone.

If none of these tips work and friends still apply pressure and won’t let you enjoy the party without drugs, then it is time to head for the door. Admit there is nothing fun for you there and leave. If you find yourself in the same situation every weekend, then you may need a new plan of action. When you know the party will have alcohol or friends plan to do drugs at a concert or club, it might be easier for you to just not show up. Think about what you could do differently to stay true to yourself and follow your own path, with no excuses.