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Peer pressure can be both positive and negative, depending on where the pressure is coming from. When the peers you are spending time with begin pressuring you to try drugs and alcohol, the consequences can be devastating. No one starts using these substances with the intention of becoming addicted, but addictions do happen. The best way to protect yourself is to stand up to the peer pressure right from the beginning. We have five tips to help you succeed in your resistance efforts.

Choose Friends Wisely

While some friends will encourage you to make positive choices, others will try to pressure you to make negative and even destructive choices. Which type of people do you want to be around? In most cases, choosing friends that make the right choices themselves will help you to do the same.

Learn to Stop

If someone asks you to do something like drink a beer or try a drug, don’t respond to the request immediately. Take a moment to catch your breath and let your brain engage in the decision making process. Sometimes, just giving yourself that bit of time will be enough to help you make the right choice in those uncomfortable situations.

Practice Saying No

It can be difficult to stand up to peers that you consider your friends. Make it easier on yourself by practicing your responses to their questions about drugs and alcohol. Ask a parent, teacher or older sibling to role play with you so you can prepare your response ahead of time. When the situation arises, your result is more likely to be automatic.

Consider Consequences

Sure, it can be hard to say no to your friends, but consider the consequences of saying yes. What will happen if you take that drink or smoke that joint? Will one poor choice lead to another. Will you compromise your health, make yourself sick or get in trouble with the law? In most cases, the consequences of those decisions will be much more dreadful than simply standing up and saying no in the first place.

Consider Alternatives

Instead of simply saying no, consider offering up an alternative activity you can all do instead. “Why don’t we go to the park and ride skateboards,” or “Let’s hit the mall,” can turn your entire group around from a potentially dangerous behavior. At the very least, it will give you an out, and possibly one or two of your other friends that feel equally uncomfortable with the situation.

Drug and alcohol abuse begins with that first taste or try. If you have been unable to say no to peer pressure and now find yourself in trouble with a substance, we can help. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we offer a variety of programs for teens struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. To learn more, contact Visions at 866-889-3665.