What Should I Do If Friends Pressure Me to Use Drugs?

What Should I Do If Friends Pressure Me to Use Drugs?People living in recovery face pitfalls when they return to regular life. When friends are a significant reason behind day-to-day challenges, immediate action should be taken.

Drug and Alcohol Use Among Peer Groups

Healthy relationships are a crucial part of living a sober lifestyle. When a person makes a lifelong commitment to fighting addiction, he may have to dramatically change his habits and lifestyle. For some people, this process may involve changing relationships with friends.

Building a social network of sober friends may be easier for adults over age 26. For young adults or adolescents, there may be more pressure to use drugs with friends at school. For others, certain workplace settings, such as restaurants or construction sites, may be populated by higher numbers of drug users, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Drug use is highest for older teens and young adults, according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey sponsored by SAMHSA. In that study, nearly a quarter of young adults, 23.8% of 18-20 year olds, report using illicit drugs. Use is slightly lower for 21-25 year olds at 19.9%. For 26-29 year olds, drug use falls to 14.9% and continues to fall as individuals get older.

Alcohol use rates are higher than drug use rates with the highest rates seen for 21-25 year olds (69.7%) and 26-29 year olds (65.3%). On the whole, alcohol use is common for individuals over the age of 21 (ranging from 50%-70%, depending on age). Reported percentages of binge drinking and heavy drinking do fall as people get older.

Ways that Friends Influence Drug Use

People in recovery need to maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits and build routines that keep them away from situations that could trigger substance abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). A key component of recovery is a humble attitude. As long as a person understands how close he is to addiction, he will work hard to avoid falling back into bad habits. Addiction research shows that a relapse can begin long before a person takes a drink or uses a drug.

Former friends too often are reminders of old habits and old ways of thinking. The following behavior and environment changes could signal a person is headed for a relapse, according to NIDA:

  • Attitude change about the value of treatment
  • Stressful life event
  • Behavior changes (changing daily routine or reacting to stress)
  • Social breakdown (withdrawing from supportive friends and family)
  • Loss of judgment and loss of control (difficulty making decisions or making irrational choices)

Staying in contact with healthy, sober people is crucial to maintaining a substance-free life. Experts, such as researchers at the NIDA, recommend regular contact with self-help groups, especially in the first year of recovery. When a person stops hanging out with supportive friends and family and returns to old relationships with friends who use drugs or alcohol, a relapse is likely.

Balancing Friendships and Recovery

While it may be difficult to accept, a person in recovery needs to avoid relationships with friends who abuse substances. Addiction is a chronic disease that requires lifelong attention. In the first few years of recovery, an individual is particularly vulnerable and needs regular encouragement. Supportive and secure relationships are considered a crucial part of recovery.

On the other hand, romantic relationships may fall outside this sphere. Most 12-step addiction programs recommend that an individual avoid romantic relationships in the first year, according to an article by psychotherapist William Berry on the self-help website SelfGrowth.com. A person in recovery should spend time learning why he used drugs or alcohol. A relationship could become an unhealthy substitute for a past addiction, especially if a person has not learned to heal previous emotional hurts.

People in recovery also need to build self-esteem and learn to draw on internal reserves for peace and affirmation. True friends care about the emotional and physical health of people in their social circles. When a friend pressures someone in recovery to use drugs or alcohol, he is being selfish and insecure.

Maintaining Healthy Substance-Free Relationships

Former friends who are still living a party lifestyle and using drugs and alcohol may not understand how important recovery is for a recovering addict. There are many reasons to seek addiction treatment. Some people realize drug or alcohol use has taken over their lives, while some people are forced into treatment by a court action or family intervention. Once in recovery, the real power of addiction becomes clear and former friends who encourage drug or alcohol use are toxic elements.

Do not let an addiction to drugs or alcohol keep you from leading a healthy, happy life. If you or a loved one has an addiction or is in danger of relapsing, call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors are standing by with treatment options for your situation. Do not wait another day to find help. Call today.

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