Peer Pressure: What’s Friendship Got to Do With It?
We’ve all been in a situation where our friends do something that we don’t agree with or don’t want to take part in. Ideally, no one would pressure you to join, but even your buddies might not realize you’re uncomfortable.
When it comes to risky drug use, these situations could take place on base, such as your buddies misusing prescription drugs to stay alert. Or if you’re back home in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, your friends might offer you some weed without realizing the risk to your career. Although it might be hard to change other people’s actions, you can control your own actions when it comes to risky drug use.
What can I do to stay on track?
Try out these tips:
- Educate non-military friends and family. Do your civilian friends know that a drug offense can cost you more than your military career? Let them know you must follow military policy: no marijuana (even in areas where it is legal), no illicit drugs (such as cocaine) and no misuse of prescription medications. Otherwise, you can lose your career and the important benefits you worked hard to earn.
- Ask friends for help. Ask them to have your back if someone pressures you to take anything that violates military policy.
- Think ahead. Think twice about the setting you’ll be in. If you are invited to a house party where you know there will be risky drug use, you might have to make the tough decision to stay away. Or drive yourself so you can leave when you’re ready and plan ahead so that you don’t drive buzzed or drunk. It’s not worth the risk.
- Suggest another activity. If you think a situation is going to involve any of these types of risky drug use, suggest a different activity like a pickup game or bowling.
Sometimes the best thing to do is say no
Saying no to illicit and prohibited drugs and prescription drug misuse is a sign of strength. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Tell your buddies you are the designated driver. Follow through to show you’re dependable and honest.
- Be clear and stand firm. If you feel pressured, say you aren’t interested. Blame it on waking up early or wanting to feel 100% for your workout the next day.
- Make a polite excuse to leave. If you feel uncomfortable, maybe it’s time to say you’ll see them later and head home.
A strong support system goes a long way. It can be hard to be honest with yourself and your friends, but protecting your health and your career makes it worth it. If you think your buddies are having trouble with risky drug use, you may want to talk with them and offer your support.