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What Should I Do If Friends Pressure Me to Use Drugs?Having adventurous friends can be a help in finding new experiences to try. Drug use, however, is an adventure you are better off not taking. Refusing to follow your friends’ lead can take skill and, very often, some courage.

The Power of Peers

When you are alone, the facts about drugs and their dangers may be quite enough to make you decide to avoid them. When friends are nearby, however, the normal decision making of teenagers can be dramatically changed.

Researchers conducted experiments with driving risks and monetary rewards and published the results in the March 2011 issue of the journal Developmental Science. They found that teenagers were more likely to take risks when a group of friends were watching them perform the tests.

Sticking by your own risk decisions does appear to be especially difficult for young people in Anchorage and across the country. Adults were also tested but they did not show the same boost of risk taking that the teenagers.

The Value of Refusal Skills

Some young people in Anchorage have an easier time standing by their choices than others. They use a group of learned abilities that psychologists call “refusal skills” to guard against negative influence.

A 2012 study published in the journal Child Development looked at adolescents’ social skills, their friends’ drug use, and their own drug use. They found that teenagers with better social and refusal skills were less likely follow the examples of their friends who chose to use drugs.

Building Refusal Skills

These valuable refusal skills can be learned. Here are some examples of skills Anchorage teens can begin developing now:

  • Have a reason. Statements have more power when they are supported. Tell your friends how you chose against using drugs and how your policy fits into your broader plans and goals for your life.
  • Say “no” non-verbally, too. Don’t let the tone of your voice, posture, or facial expressions say “maybe” even as your words say “no thank you.”
  • Move the discussion along. There has to be something else to do or talk about with your friends. Refocus your time together on something you all enjoy like sports, games, or even gossip.
  • Be consistent. If you say “no” again and again and back it up with the same reasons every time, your friends will get tired of asking.

Be ready to defend your choices by learning and practicing these skills before you need them.

Friendship and Addiction Recovery in Anchorage

If you are an Anchorage resident recovering from drug abuse problems, refusing to follow your friends into drug use becomes vital to your recovery. Spending time with your old friends in the same places you used to go while you were using drugs and watching them use drugs will probably all add up to a powerful temptation to relapse. This is not what you need, particularly while in the early stages of recovery

If you do not want to completely cut off with your drug using friends, talk to your counselor or mentor about safe channels of communication. Maybe he will support inviting your friends to planned visits to your drug-free territory in the company of people who are supporting your recovery. Perhaps simply writing a letter to your drug using friends may be the safest and best way to keep being a friend.

Find and Maintain Addiction Recovery

Whether you are an Anchorage resident recovering or just trying to maintain a drug-free lifestyle, you can call our toll-free helpline to learn more about resisting the pressure to use drugs. Counselors are available 24 hours a day.