3 Ways to Avoid Peer Pressure to Drink Alcohol
Guest post by Beth Rush
Many people find it challenging to have social lives that don’t involve alcohol. Hard beverages are almost everywhere, so you or your children will likely run into situations when people expect you to drink with them. These are three ways to avoid peer pressure to drink alcohol and help your loved ones make the best choices for themselves.
Peer Pressure and Alcohol
1. Mention Your Health Concerns
When someone says they can’t eat a dessert with friends because they have diabetes, no one thinks twice about pressuring them to do otherwise. The people in your life want the best for you, so you can always mention that you have health concerns that prevent you from drinking hard beverages.
You could talk about how alcohol interferes with your prescription medications. Many people don’t know that alcohol can cause harmful side effects such as:
- Heart problems
If your loved ones haven’t been on prescription drugs, they may not realize that it’s dangerous to mix them with alcohol. A quick explanation will likely be all they need to hear, without any personal details.
You can also talk about how you want to avoid a specific physical side effect even if you aren’t on prescription medications. Drinking alcohol increases your blood pressure, which your doctor may have told you to keep an eye on. You might be trying to lose weight and not want to deal with the water weight gain that comes with drinking.
When you encounter social pressure to drink alcohol, briefly discussing health concerns may help your friends realize they should stop asking you to order a drink. They’ll respect your needs if they genuinely care for you.
2. Talk With Your Kids
People often imagine teenagers dealing with peer pressure in high school, but the influence of friends starts at a young age. Your children will encounter situations where their friends encourage them to do things like play one game over another or ignore a classmate as early as preschool.
Although alcohol won’t become part of their lives until much later, parents must have age-appropriate discussions about peer pressure when their kids are young. You can frame the conversation with useful strategies like:
- During elementary school: point out how to recognize when they feel uncomfortable.
- During middle school: talk about how alcohol affects a person’s health.
- During high school: provide conversational responses to politely decline and suggest an alternative social activity because social pressure to drink alcohol will begin when they’re teens and early adults.
- At all ages: positively reinforce when your kids stand up for themselves.
Parents play an essential role in helping their children build self-esteem. Give your children the tools they need to say no to peer pressure by building their confidence within a safe space at home. They should feel comfortable talking about anything so they will feel firm in deciding to say no to their friends, regardless of what people ask them to do.
Teaching kids how to avoid peer pressure related to drinking will also empower them when their friends ask them to do other things. They’ll more easily walk away from uncomfortable situations or activities because you’ve taught them that their values are more important. Your kids should also know you’re only one phone call away from a judgment-free ride back home.
3. Reframe the Situation
People of all ages can quickly reframe the situation if their friends try to make them drink in social settings. It’s more socially acceptable to talk about being in recovery, so they may know others who prefer not to drink. Given that 25 million Americans are in substance use disorder remission, the people you know may have other friends or family members who are sober.
You can always say that you’re in recovery and don’t want to drink. Anyone who loves you will respect your wishes because they want the best for you.
Some people don’t drink because they have a family history that puts them at high risk for developing addictions. You don’t have to be in active recovery to say no to hard beverages. Briefly mentioning your preference to avoid triggering any genetic predispositions to alcohol abuse is another way to stop peer pressure.
The pressure to drink socially can also become overwhelming when you don’t want to make anyone feel personally insulted. If that’s the case, you can reframe the situation by reminding your friends that you love hanging out with them but don’t want to compromise your values.
You might recommend that everyone does something else, like catch up at a coffee shop instead of a bar. There’s also the possibility of drinking mocktails, sodas, or water if you can’t move the social activity away from a venue or activity with hard beverages.
Although that’s an option for everyone, it’s not always the best choice. No matter why you don’t want to drink, you can always walk away and meet up with your friends another time.
Avoid Social Pressure to Drink Alcohol
Now that you know how to avoid peer pressure and navigate social situations that involve alcohol, prioritize your wellbeing along with your loved ones. When everyone knows what they value and when their friends cross a line, they’ll become more prepared to make tough calls. It’s always easier to say no when you have tools in place and a safe space waiting for you at home.
Adult Peer Pressure: Drinking to Fit In