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Dear Dr. London

DrLPeer Pressure

Tune in for a one-on-one session with everyone’s favorite school psychologist, Dr. London. This week, Dr. London offers up advice on peer pressure.

Dear Dr. London,

My friends were at a party and a lot of people were drinking and some were using drugs. I didn’t want to be a part of it, but they were making me feel like I was a loser for not doing it. I finally had to have a drink, just to stop them from pressuring me. What should I do the next time?

Signed, Peer Pressured

Dear P Squared,

Oh yes, the age old question, “how do I avoid falling into the trap of peer pressure?” Teenagers all over the world have been making poor decisions because of it for centuries. You are not the first, and you will certainly not be the last to fall prey to its seductive pull. Have no fear. There are many ways to respond so that you can keep your cool kid reputation and self-esteem in tact, but not have to succumb to the potential dangers of underage drinking and/or allowing others to make poor decisions for you.

But first, what is the deal with peer pressure anyway? Why is it so hard to say what you really want to say and/or do what you really know is best? Your peers have a special way of influencing your life, even when you don’t realize it. We learn from one another simply by spending time with people. It’s human nature to learn through observation; you develop interests, pick up mannerisms and learn behaviors from your friends. So, when the people whom you spend most of your time unconsciously emulating really put on the pressure, it’s easy to understand why it’s hard to say no to their influence.

The next time you find yourself in the aforementioned situation, here are a few approaches you might want to take.

What do you do to deal with peer pressure?

-Just say no

-Use an excuse

-Offer up a better alternative

-Avoid the people who pressure me

Some examples:

Party Goer: Hey, Larry! Have a drink!

YOU: Not tonight, I’m the designated driver.

It’s a simple response and there’s no way someone can argue with you on this one.

Party Goer: Hey, Larry! Have a drink!

YOU: Hey, thanks man. That sounds great.

Accept the drink but don’t drink it! You can even surreptitiously dump it and fill your cup with water or soda so you appear to be drinking. Red solo cups will help you tremendously with this plan.

Party Goer: Hey, Larry! Have a drink!

YOU: Hey, thanks man! Have a big test to study for tomorrow and I have to write a Dvar Torah for Assaraf. Expletive. Can’t do that with a hangover tomorrow. Thanks anyway!

This one works especially well if you’re very studious. 

Party Goer: “Hey, Larry! Have a drink!”

YOU: “Hey, thanks man. You know, you guys are only serving beer and I pre-partied before I came with Manischevitz. Not wise to mix your alcohol. Thanks but no thanks.”

By the way, this is actually a myth, as is the phrase, “beer before liquor never been sicker, liquor before beer in the clear.” The amount you drink matters more than the type of drinks you consume or how you mix them. Drinking too much of any alcohol too quickly can make you sick, but your friends aren’t wise enough to know this so feel free to still use it.

Party Goer: Hey Larry! Have a drink!

YOU: Oh, would love to man, but my mom will kill me if she smells alcohol on my breath. She’s been all over me about this, and I know she’ll be waiting for me as soon as I walk through the door.

An oldie but reliable goodie: BLAME YOUR MOM. She’s happy to take the fall and the excuse is highly believable.

Party Goer: Hey Larry! Have a drink!

YOU: Oh, thanks man! Dying for a drink, but I have good intel that Dr. Lieber is drug testing this week. With my luck, it will definitely be me. Can’t do it tonight.

Blame the school. Handbook rules save the day.

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