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How Does Peer Pressure Affect Adults?

We all associate peer pressure with teenagers trying to force their friends to fit a specific look or do something illegal. Many are surprised to learn that adult peer pressure is very much a thing that affects all of us. Much like our teenage counterparts, adults can also fall for the effects of peer pressure, often doing things that they’ll eventually regret. Most likely, you or someone you know started taking Adderall because of peer pressure. How many addicts relapse because of peer pressure? Adults are not immune to the pressure our peers impart, and it can be especially dangerous for those in addiction recovery. Here’s all you need to know about this effect. 

What is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure is a direct influence on people by others. When you feel peer pressure, it might be because your friends encourage you to change your attitude, values, or behaviors to conform to those of the peer group. This can have positive and negative outcomes, sometimes both.

Positive Peer Pressure

Not all peer pressure is negative, though. This type of pressure is set to lead you to make better choices that won’t undermine your values and help you achieve your goals. For example, a classic example of positive peer pressure is when someone tries to get another person to quit smoking. 

Negative Peer Pressure

As humans, we crave acceptance and integration. However, because of this, we’re also quite susceptible to negative influence. This can take a toll on your mental health. You begin undermining your core values, and eventually, risk losing control of your life. An example of negative peer pressure could be trying to get you to drink heavily when you don’t enjoy it, try drugs when you don’t have a prescription, or other activities that can negatively impact your life. 

How to Deal with Peer Pressure As An Adult?

No matter your age, dealing with peer pressure can be challenging. A recent study found that resistance to peer pressure increases dramatically between the ages of 14 and 18 but remains virtually unchanged between 18 and 30. To prevent negative peer pressure from holding you back or negatively impacting your mental health, keep these tips in mind. 

  • Stay true to yourself. Before you try something new, take some time to reflect on your inherent values. Think about what you want for yourself in the future and how this decision might impact you. 
  • Be assertive. As an adult, you have all the power to shut down your friend’s negative peer pressure. When speaking with them, make eye contact and use phrases like “I want” and “I think.” 
  • Recognize toxic relationships. Sometimes even old friends and family members become toxic relationships that are not worth keeping around. Recognize who these people are and develop healthy boundaries around them that prevent them from triggering any negative emotions or behaviors. 
  • Trust your instincts. You’re no longer a teenager. As an adult, you know better. Stay mindful and recognize when it’s best to stay true to your values. When you’re faced with a decision to maintain your healthy habits or go off the path, your gut instincts will usually be right.
  • Make plans. If you know you’ll experience pressure, be ready for it. Plan and determine how you’ll stand up for yourself. 
  • Have an exit strategy. Sometimes, it’s best to excuse yourself from the situation altogether. If you start to feel pressured by friends or co-workers, excuse yourself and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t even worry about what others might say. Your mental health and recovery are more important. If you must, have a script you can turn to for whenever this occurs. 

Keep Going.

As you navigate addiction recovery, you’ll likely find many situations where peer pressure might set you back. It’s always best to continue attending support group meetings, check into an aftercare program, or keep in touch with a sponsor or therapist to stay on track whenever you feel overwhelmed. 

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