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Peer Pressure: Don’t Give In!

Teens are always pressuring friends and people at school to do all sorts of things that aren’t cool. You may have had a friend or peer try and talk you into things like drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having sex, shoplifting, or cheating on a test or homework. They probably make you feel like you’re lame if you don’t do it, right? They usually say things like “it’s not that big of a deal,” and “everyone’s doing it.” Maybe they even say “you won’t know how you really feel about it unless you try it.”

Being pressured to do something is tough. On one hand, you don’t want anyone to think you’re uncool or too scared or too good to try something. You definitely don’t want to lose your friends. But on the other hand, you know what’s right and what’s wrong. You also know what’s illegal, and you definitely don’t want to get in trouble with the law and put your future at risk. So what can you do?

Here are some ways you can say no….

  • Just say no. Be straight up with them. Just say “no thanks,” or “nah dude, I’m good.” You can just walk away if you want, or change the subject. You really don’t owe them any explanation.
  • Give a reason. If you do want to give them an explanation, or if they keep bugging you about it, just tell them honestly why you don’t want to. If they’re pressuring you to smoke, you can say something like, “I’m trying to stay in shape for basketball” or “I have asthma.” Or you can even say something like, “I think smoking is gross. It’s super bad for you.”
  • Avoid the situation. If you’re invited to a party where you’re pretty sure there will be alcohol, it might be a better idea to just not go to that party. If you don’t want to participate, just stay away so you don’t get pressured all night.
  • Change the subject. Just change the subject and ignore the question. If someone offers you a joint, say something totally random like, “Oh hey, did you see what this person posted on Facebook?”
  • Reverse the pressure. If they’re making you feel like you’re lame, turn it back on them. Say something like, “I don’t need to do that to prove I’m cool” or “dude that’s lame, I don’t do that.”
  • Delay. If someone is trying to get you to go out with them and you don’t really want to, say, “Let’s be friends for a while so we can get to know each other better first.”

If someone is trying to push you do something that 1) is bad for you, 2) will get you in trouble, and 3) they know you don’t really want to do…. Are they really your friend? For real. Friends don’t do that. Friends respect each other, and you shouldn’t need to do stupid stuff in order for you “friends” to like you.

If your friends are trying to pressure you to do anything, anything at all… you should probably find a new crowd to hang with. Peer pressure is lame, don’t put up with it from anyone.

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Weed: Worth It?

Many teens feel pressured to try marijuana at some point during high school. It might seem like “everybody’s doing it,” and people might be telling you “it’s not a big deal, just try it.” But the reality is that marijuana is a very big deal.

Marijuana, often referred to as pot, weed, herb, reefer, or Mary Jane, is a mixture of dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. The mixture can be green, brown, or gray, and has a very strong smell. Most people roll loose marijuana into a cigarette joint and smoke it, but some people also put it in food and tea.

When people are high on marijuana, they feel good. It gives them pleasant sensations, and enhances all their senses. Everything feels good, everything tastes better than normal, everything sounds cool. But it only feels good for a very short amount of time, and then the negative effects kick in.

Here are the short term effects… people high on marijuana have:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Slower reaction time
  • Problems responding to sounds/signals
  • A hard time remembering things
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor perception
  • Higher heart rates (20-50 beats faster per minute)
  • Inability to make decisions

And here are some long term effects:

  • People who currently or have previously smoked marijuana have a heart time with complex tasks. Marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which finds brain cells with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors, and binds to them. This affects the part of the brain that learns and remembers, and it continues to affect it permanently even when you’re not high anymore. So past users have a hard time pursuing academic, athletic, and other life goals that require you to be 100% focused and alert.
  • People who have used report less life satisfaction, poorer education/job achievement, and more anxiety and depression.
  • 1/6 people who start using at a young age become dependent on it and experience withdrawals when they try to quit.
  • Smoking marijuana is no different than smoking cigarettes, maybe even worse. It affects the lungs and airways, causes breathing problems, and causes people to be more susceptible to chest colds, coughs, and bronchitis. Marijuana smoke is also inhaled more deeply than cigarettes so more smoke enters the lungs for a longer period of time. It also contains the same chemicals as cigarettes… about 400 chemicals.
  • Marijuana can act as a gateway drug and lead people to trying other drugs.
  • Marijuana is also illegal. Anyone who is caught with it can spend time in jail, and be fined a lot of money, even if you’re under 18.

If your friends are pressuring you to try marijuana, just think about it: is less than an hour of a “good feeling” worth damaging your brain and lungs, being unable to make decisions and function normally, and risking getting arrested?

If you or a friend are want to quit smoking marijuana, talk to a parent, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult to get help. Or, you can call the Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which offers many other services besides helping people who are suicidal) at 1-800-273-TALK.