3 Effective Tips for Coping with Peer Pressure to Drink

Most teens will face peer pressure to drink at some point in their youth. The drinking culture in the United States promotes teen drinking and glamorizes alcohol use. Combine that with the desire to fit in, and many succumb to the pressure. In many cases, this leads to disastrous and dangerous outcomes. It’s important for parents and teens to work together and create effective strategies for avoiding teen drinking peer pressure.

Why Do Teens Feel Pressured to Drink Alcohol?

Teens want to feel accepted, be a part of a larger group, feel cool and in control, and are often curious about alcohol. Close friends or a larger social group may offer alcohol and it may be difficult to say no without feeling left out or standing out as different. Teens want to be approved of and liked, and the fear of rejection for refusing to drink is terrifying to many teens. 

Strategies for Saying No to Teen Drinking

Understanding the role of peer pressure in teen drinking and establishing effective strategies to resist it can help empower teens as they face this difficult situation. Making healthy choices and sticking to personal values is reliant upon having the proper tools when the time comes.

1.Plan Ahead & Practice Saying No to Alcohol

The first element of saying no is to predict and be aware of situations where offers to drink will likely arise. Anticipating what’s to come and planning for as many scenarios as possible can help your teen say no when facing peer pressure. Avoid risky situations where drinking alcohol is going to be pushed at all costs. If your teen attends a party or activity where drinking is likely, have an escape plan in place which allows them to get away from the situation and leave. 

It’s a good idea to come up with standard responses for various scenarios and practice those over and over until they become natural. For instance, “No, I’m the designated driver.” Or “No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight.” Or, “I have a lot to do tomorrow.” If the peer persists, an honest, confident, and firm answer like, “I don’t drink” is a good approach. If the pressure comes from a close friend, a simple, “You know my parents, I’d be grounded for life,” or something to that effect works well. While these responses may not meet the popularity mark with teens, they will do wonders for establishing the fact that your teen does not plan on drinking. It’s also a good idea to have your teen practice changing the subject after they respond to help end the conversation about drinking. A confident no goes a long way. The more confidence your teen has while facing this pressure, the better. Often, a self-assured response ends the debate immediately. 

2. Assess Friendships & Use the Buddy System

Having a social group that is like-minded, supportive, and safe is an important part of resisting peer pressure from outside sources. If your teen has friends who constantly push drinking, it may be a good idea to start building friendships elsewhere. Similarly, if your adolescent has a strong and stable group of friends who also resist drinking peer pressure, encourage your child to attend parties and other social events with that group of friends. A united front and others who are saying the same resounding “no” makes resisting peer pressure easier. 

3. Find Healthy Activities 

Engaging your child’s time with something other than drinking is a wise approach. The more healthy activities they are involved in, the less opportunity there is to get caught up in the drinking scene. Sports, clubs, volunteer work, and other extracurricular activities offer healthy, enjoyable alternatives.

Treatment for Teen Alcohol Use Near Me

If you’re afraid your child is using or abusing alcohol, have them try this 100% online, free assessment. SBIRT can help determine if your teen has a problem with alcohol and suggest nearby treatment centers if so. Arm yourself and your teen with support and information, and they will have a good chance of success with saying no to alcohol.