A drug is defined as any chemical substance, medicine, or naturally-occurring substance that is designed to have an effect on the body when introduced into the body. In certain medical situations, drugs are necessary. But drugs can also be harmful. Even pharmaceutical drugs, and especially street drugs, can and do cause harm. Drugs can change the way you think, feel, and act. Drugs, whether they are natural, plant-based drugs, chemical substances, or pharmaceutical medicines, change how your body works. Drugs can harm your body and how you think and react to situations. Even alcohol, which is a drug, can be harmful.
Drugs are addictive, meaning when a young person uses them, even just once, they can easily become hooked on the drugs and be unable to stop using them. As someone continues to use drugs, their body will naturally build up a tolerance to the drugs, causing them to crave more and more of the drug. The more drugs an individual uses, the more likely they are to experience an overdose, which can end in death.
Drugs also have a horrendous effect on the human body. From cannabis to heroin, any mind-altering drug causes harm on the mind, body, and spirit. Drug use can cause anything from memory loss to heart problems, sensory deprivation, accidents, injuries, organ failure, lung problems, liver disease, etc.
Drugs also compel people to make poor decisions, from job loss to fights, poor sexual choices, unnecessary arguments, trouble at home, problems in school etc.
Entire books could be written on the harm caused by drugs, and this is by no means a complete list. But it should serve to give people an idea of why it is so important that young people say no.
One of the greatest challenges facing young people is determining how to live their lives in a way that allows them to fit in with their peers while also living by their own, personal moral code. Because adolescents, teenagers, and young adults are often easily influenced by their peers, young people must learn how to navigate interactions with their social groups and either avoid or negotiate difficult, peer pressure situations.
One of the most concerning types of peer pressure in youth culture is when young people are pressured to use drugs by their “friends.” To better understand the nature of this sociological problem, a recent study examined the connection between peer pressure and alcohol consumption among adults living in the United Kingdom. Published in BMC Public Health, the study authors defined peer pressure as such:
"Any attempt by one or more peers to compel an individual to follow in the decisions or behaviours favoured by the pressuring individual or group."
That study arrived at several interesting conclusions regarding adults, peer pressure, and alcohol misuse. Quoting another excerpt from the study:
"Pressure to drink alcohol affects individuals across the life span and can be experienced as overt and aggressive, or subtle and friendly. Those consuming little or no alcohol are more likely to feel overt forms of peer pressure. Some developed strategies to cope with pressure from drinkers. Peer pressure can result in feelings of social isolation, or giving in by consuming alcohol against one's wishes."
There is no doubt that peer pressure pushes young people into risky, even life-threatening situations. What can young people living in the UK do when their peers try to pressure them into using drugs or alcohol?
Here are ten things to say or do when someone tries to get you to use drugs or alcohol:
If the peer pressure is overwhelming, do everything you can to extricate yourself from the environment where the peer pressure is occurring. Whether this involves leaving on your own, phoning a friend or family member, calling a cab, or taking public transport, removing yourself from the environment is crucial. If the peer pressure is so great that you feel you are in any danger, call an emergency line and request assistance.
One bad peer pressure experience is one too many, but learning something from such situations is possible. Taking appropriate precautions can often entirely prevent peer pressure scenarios from occurring. For example:
One of your best defences for guarding against peer pressure is simply knowing all of the many, many reasons why you wouldn't want to use drugs and alcohol. When people understand the risks at hand with drug and alcohol use, when they know the physical, psychological, behavioural, and spiritual effects of using such dangerous drugs, they are much less likely to even consider the possibility of drinking or using drugs.
Get informed, get educated, learn the truth about drugs, and never let anyone talk you into doing something you don't want to do.
by Ren Brabenec
After several years of valuable experience as an employee at an addiction treatment center, Ren now works as a drug and alcohol research specialist and writer. He’s written over 6 million words on drugs, alcohol, addiction, and how substance abuse affects young people, families, and our society. Ren is focused on using his skills and knowledge as an author and addiction counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. You can connect with Ren on LinkedIn.
Posted on Tuesday 6th April 2021