Dealing With Peer Pressure in Recovery

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Dealing With Peer Pressure in Recovery

Peer pressure is something that you might have thought ended in middle school or high school and would not resurface in adulthood. Unfortunately, after seeking treatment for a substance use disorder and beginning your recovery journey, not everyone is going to be as supportive or respectful as they should be towards your sobriety. There may even be someone that tries to pressure you into relapsing. Just because you may experience peer pressure does not mean that you have to give in; the key is simply knowing how to prepare yourself for these situations, understand how to be assertive, and set proper boundaries when necessary. 

Being Able to Recognize Peer Pressure While in Recovery

Peer pressure may not be as blatant or easy to notice when you experience it in recovery. In fact, it may be happening without you even really even noticing. This is why it is vital to be able to recognize the signs. 

Sometimes peer pressure may come in the form of minimizing the importance and seriousness of your recovery. Perhaps people will say things like:

  • “Are you sure you really have a problem?” 
  • “You don’t drink that much.” 
  • “It wouldn’t hurt to just have a drink or two.” 

It could also come in the form of not recognizing the importance of your continued treatment. For example, someone may say:

  • “Are you sure you have to make that AA meeting?”
  • “Can’t you reschedule that therapy session for another day and come hang out with us instead?”

Peer pressure may also be identified as individuals simply being disrespectful towards your recovery journey by blatantly engaging in substance use right in front of you or offering you alcohol and other substances despite being well aware that you are dedicated to your recovery. All of these things — while they might not seem that serious — can actually endanger your recovery, and they should not be overlooked. 

Tips for Dealing With Peer Pressure While in Recovery 

#1. Don’t be afraid to be assertive. 

The more confident you are in your recovery, the less likely people are to try to tempt you to engage in substance use. Speak out about how proud you are of your decision to get sober and the work and dedication you have put into your recovery journey. 

If someone offers you a drink or some other substance, shut them down the first time they ask immediately. This can be done firmly but politely by saying, “No, but thank you for offering.” If you say something more passive like “Maybe later,” or “I’ll think about it,” then there is a good chance that this individual may ask you again later or prey upon your weakness in some way. 

#2. Don’t engage with people who aren’t respectful. 

If you are in a public setting where someone you do not know well is repeatedly offering you a drink or other substance despite your refusal, or if they are being overly pushy, it is best to simply walk away. Put distance between you and them instead of allowing them to continue disrespecting you. 

#3. Choose your support system carefully. 

When going into a situation where you know it is possible to experience peer pressure, it can be very helpful to keep people who support you close by. In the event that you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing pressure, they can help you make the right decision by reminding you why you chose to get sober to begin with and how much progress you have made along the way. 

#4. Plan a response for why you don’t drink ahead of time. 

If you are in public and someone offers you a drink without knowing that you are in recovery, it can be a bit of an awkward situation. If this is someone you do not know particularly well, you may not feel comfortable opening up to them about the whole history of your recovery journey. This is why it can help to plan a different response. For example, you could say you are not drinking because you have to drive later, you are taking a particular medication, or because you are trying to lose weight. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Set Boundaries 

If you have someone who routinely tries to threaten your recovery, despite how clear you have made it to them that you are dedicated to your sobriety, do not be afraid to express to them that you will prioritize your recovery over their friendship. If they continue to disrespect your recovery, do not be afraid to limit your time with them or cut them out completely. 

Peer pressure isn’t just something that happens during middle school or high school. It can happen during adulthood, and it can even occur during recovery. You can overcome peer pressure during recovery by surrounding yourself with supportive people and learning to be assertive when tempted to engage in substance use. Don’t be afraid to show off your confidence regarding your recovery by publicly discussing how proud you are that you sought treatment. This confidence can help deter others from continuing to offer you a drink or other substances. It may also help to surround yourself with supportive loved ones when entering a social situation and be prepared with a response you can use to politely deny a drink if you are offered one. If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, you’re not alone and our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 to learn more. 

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