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How to help teens resist the pressure to take drugs


One of the biggest challenges for teens is withstanding peer pressure. Although a powerful force, peer pressure is not necessarily always a negative influence. It teaches teenagers how to fit in, adapt and make a meaningful contribution to their social group. Helping teenagers to distinguish between negative and positive pressures is key to them making the right choices.

So how can you ensure your teen is able to resist negative peer pressure –without alienating their peers? The single greatest concern for parents of teenagers is peer pressure that entices them into trying drugs. One impulsive step could be enough to lead them down the wrong path. But if you empower your teen with a sound values system, this can help give them the courage and conviction to make correct decisions, even if this means standing apart from the crowd.

The good news is that two recent studies found that young people, aged 11-15, have turned their backs on drink, drugs and smoking. The number of children who have tried illegal drugs has decreased by almost a half over the past 10 years. However, another study is quite alarming. It was carried out by the Crime Survey for England and Wales and reported that the number of young people aged 16 -24 that indulge in cocaine and ecstasy has gone up by 230,000 to 2.7 million.

Empower your teen to battle peer pressure

Accept your child

Children who grow up secure in the knowledge they are loved and accepted for who they are rarely submit to peer pressure, as they do not need to seek validation from the external world.

Value and appreciate their talents, and provide them with all the support and guidance they need – this will help them build healthy self-esteem.

Express affection to your child

If you display your love for your child, this strengthens your bond with them. Even though some teenagers might be bashful about displays of affection, it does make a lasting impression on their minds, whether or not they would admit it. It is this unconditional love that becomes their armour, protecting them from the influence of negative peer pressure.

Listen to your child and keep communication channels open

A child’s ability to distinguish between what is right, and what is not, begins with the parents. Investing the time and effort to talk to your teens and let them know they can talk to you about their thoughts and problems, will help them to trust you. Knowing that they have the solid support and emotional backing of their home and family eliminates the craving for superficial approval from peers.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of doing drugs

Teach them to say a firm “no!” Role play the scene with your teenager, and suggest various ways to refuse politely but firmly. At the same time, encourage them to differentiate between the person and the act, so that they do not come across as excessively self-righteous.

Ask your child for their views and encourage them to ask questions. Gauge their opinions on the topic and encourage them to be honest with you. Discuss the consequences of drugs objectively by explaining how it can take a toll on every aspect of their life. Everything that teenagers watch and listen makes an impression on their minds. So, while it is not really possible to constantly monitor what they are accessing on social media, it would be a good idea to be tuned in to their likes and interests. Look out for any unusual changes in behaviour or any unexplained mood swings. Most important of all, get them to talk to you about anything that affects them or they feel strongly about.

Peer pressure can be an overwhelming influence but it can never be stronger than the emotional stability that a loving and nurturing home provides. The role that you as a parent play in providing a secure environment for your teen to thrive and grow in will give them all the strength they need to resist the temptation to give in to peer pressure. Not only at this sensitive phase of their life, but in the future as well.

Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson

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