Drugs and Alcohol

Pressure from friends to drink and take drugs

Peer pressure is the idea that young people take drugs or drink alcohol because of pressure from other people their age. There were some examples of people having been pressured to use illegal drugs and alcohol but these were less from ‘peers’ than from an older boyfriend or an older group of friends. For the young people we talked to, ‘peer pressure’ was more about wanting to ‘fit in’ or follow the crowd, rather than about blaming others. Comments made by friends in social situations were described as jokes or banter rather than bullying.
In some situations it was easier to do as other people were doing. Peter thought that his own heavy drinking was a result of his competitive nature and culture in the UK. Emma also told us that competition can encourage heavy drinking. The girls in her university sport team always try to match the boys’ team when they go out drinking. Peter and Joe both talked about the pressure there is among groups of young men to drink a lot.
Some people, like Kasim and Harry, told us that they were the only people responsible for their choices around drugs and alcohol. Harry said ‘I’ve always been responsible for my own downfall’.
See also: friends, alcohol and drugs.

Last updated: January 2015
Review date: January 2017

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