Feeling pressured to drink when you are with your friends? You are not alone… here are our top tips for not giving into peer pressure!
“Come on, just have one! Don’t be boring, you know you want to…!” If you have been out drinking socially, it’s likely you have heard this phrase when friends or peers try to persuade you to stay out a little longer, or to join in drinking when you hadn’t planned to. It can be a difficult thing to say no to, but for many, there are far more reasons not to drink, outweighing the reasons to join in.
So, how can we handle these situations when we decide not to drink one evening? We have collated some of the best tips, tricks and advice for you to pull out whenever you’re being encouraged to consume alcohol.
What’s with all the pressure?
Fundamentally, humans are pack animals, and we like to spend time with others in social settings. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense as primitive humans would have had to form social groups in order to find food, create shelters, protect one another and ultimately to survive. Overtime we have developed a tendency to conform to social norms within our social circles as this makes it easier for us to fit in and be accepted by our peers – so we can benefit from their comfort and protection.
If we start acting in a way that contradicts these social norms, others can perceive this as a challenge to the acceptability of this behaviour within the group and they may feel defensive or uncertain about the change in status quo. In an attempt to rectify this perceived imbalance, members of a social group may try to influence the behaviours of another, and reinstate this as an accepted social norm.
What’s the problem?
This propensity to keep the peace, so to speak, to follow the crowd or be persuaded to behave like others in your social circles can lead to some potentially toxic behaviours, especially when within the context of risky alcohol consumption. If you are in the middle of an alcohol-free challenge, this can be a sticky situation to navigate, especially after the confines of lockdown providing the perfect excuse for people to get together to ‘celebrate’. With bars and restaurants beginning to reopen and social distancing rules relaxing in many cities, lots of people have been flocking back to social hotspots to raise a glass to their reclaimed freedom. However, along with this returns the social pressures that encapsulate social drinking. So if you have been struggling to know what to say to those persuasive party people, here are some of our top tips!
How to avoid being influenced by peer pressure
Make some calls
There is no harm in speaking out before a social event, letting your friends and peers know that you won’t be drinking that evening. While there is no reason you need to offer anyone an excuse, you may find it easier to tell them this information outwit the social occasion when peer pressure can be at its highest.
What you choose to tell them is up to you – you could let them know you are on an alcohol-free challenge, that it’s easier if you drive to the event, or any other reason you’re comfortable sharing. If your friends and peers understand going into the event that you’re not drinking, they are less likely to try to persuade you later as they are aware of and understand your reasons for not doing so.
Take a challenge
If you haven’t already taken on an alcohol-free challenge, you may wish to consider it as it can be a handy excuse to pull out in social situations. Challenges are perceived as a bit of fun and something to focus on for a short period of time which can make the idea much easier for people around you to digest. You may find it sparks a bit of conversation or competition within your social circles meaning others want to come join you!
Be the life of the party
If you would have been considered the life and soul of the party in the past, show them nothing has changed even though you’re not drinking. You can still enjoy the night as much as you did before, tearing up the dance floor and cracking jokes until the cows come home. Not drinking comes with some negative rhetoric about becoming boring, but of course this just isn’t true. Prove to your friends and peers that you are still the same person you were, and they will soon realise it wasn’t the alcohol fuelling your social interactions.
You may find that one of the main reasons your peers try to encourage you to drink with them is so you are on a similar level of drunkenness, meaning neither is more or less likely to embarrass themselves in front of the other. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which means people often act in ways that they wouldn’t when sober. If you can demonstrate you would be open, accepting and not judgemental of others drunken decisions while you are socialising sober, your peers may be less concerned about getting you to drink with them in order to relieve this potential embarrassment.
It may also be a good idea to try to limit the amount of time you spend trying to persuade others to try going alcohol-free too. While you can and absolutely should share the benefits of being alcohol-free with your friends and peers, try not to ‘push’ any kind of agenda on them as this may cause them to feel defensive. Everyone has the right to make up their own minds about how they approach alcohol, and they may not be ready to address their own relationship with drinking yet. It is better for them to see you lead by example, living life better and choose to follow suit if and when they feel it is right for them.
Go on stealth mode
If you aren’t ready to tell your social circles about your break from the booze, then there is no reason they have to know. Ask the person behind the bar to serve you your favourite alcohol-free alternative in a glass so that no one would recognise it’s not alcoholic. If someone offers to buy you a drink, just point to your non alcoholic drink and say you’re still working on the one you’ve got. If you are going to a social occasion at someone’s house, bring along your favourite non alcoholic option to ensure you have something you can drink even if your hosts don’t have an alcohol-free option on offer. After the first few drinks, no one will be paying attention to what is in your glass!
Diamonds are formed under immense pressure
One thing to remember about this alcohol-free journey is that it isn’t always easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it!
You may find there are times when social pressures make it difficult to resist, but diamonds are formed during periods under huge amounts of pressure, and this could be you too. Each time you overcome a situation that allows you to continue on your challenge, you become that little bit more confident in your decisions. As you begin to see and feel the benefits of an alcohol-free challenge, you will be absolutely certain it was worth it.