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Alcohol: Peer pressure or not?

Which of these situations are examples of peer pressure, and which ones aren't?

If you think the scenario is an example of peer pressure, select ‘True’. If you don’t think the scenario is an example of peer pressure, select ‘False’.

true or false
You’re at a birthday party with all the kids from your year group at school. You’re not legally old enough to drink but there is a bowl of alcoholic fruit punch that your friends are all drinking. They encourage you to have a glass, saying how cool girls/boys that drink are and how much it will impress the guy/girl that you have a crush on who is also at the party and is drinking the punch.
TRUE FALSE
Correct, this is an example of peer pressure. You’re being encouraged to drink alcohol when you're under the legal age by your friends, who are suggesting that you’ll have a better chance of impressing someone you really like if you do. Making the decision to have a drink should be your own choice, and you shouldn’t be pressured by your friends if you don’t want to, especially as you're under the legal drinking age. Alcohol can affect your judgement and you may do things you wouldn’t normally do.
Incorrect, this is an example of peer pressure. You’re being encouraged to drink alcohol when you're under the legal age by your friends, who are suggesting that you’ll have a better chance of impressing someone you really like if you do. Making the decision to have a drink should be your own choice, and you shouldn’t be pressured by your friends if you don’t want to, especially as you're under the legal drinking age. Alcohol can affect your judgement and you may do things you wouldn’t normally do.
true or false
You’re hanging out with friends at a local park when one of your group pulls out a bottle of vodka from their bag. The bottle is passed around the circle, with each of your friends having a swig. The bottle gets round to you and all eyes fall on you. You don’t want to drink it, but don’t know what to do as everyone is looking at you.
TRUE FALSE
Correct, this is an example of peer pressure. Sometimes your friends don’t need to say anything to be pressurizing you into doing something you don’t want to do. In this scenario, all of your friends have had a drink and now are expecting you to do the same. It's still your choice though, so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable passing the bottle on if you don’t want to have a drink. To get out of a difficult situation, you could say that you have a sports match the next day so you can’t have a drink.
Incorrect, this is an example of peer pressure. Sometimes your friends don’t need to say anything to be pressurizing you into doing something you don’t want to do. In this scenario, all of your friends have had a drink and now are expecting you to do the same. It's still your choice though, so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable passing the bottle on if you don’t want to have a drink. To get out of a difficult situation, you could say that you have a sports match the next day so you can’t have a drink.
true or false
One of your friends is bragging about a great party they went to at the weekend and the amount of alcohol they drank. They mention that there's another party planned, and you and your other friends are invited. You chat with each other about this; some are keen on going whilst others really don’t want to go. You agree between you that those who want to go should go, and those who don’t want to go will meet up and do something else together instead.
TRUE FALSE
Incorrect, this isn't an example of peer pressure. In this scenario, you and your friends haven’t all been influenced by your other friend bragging about how great the party was. You talked about it between you, and no-one felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t want to do. You have all respected each other’s decisions without judgement.
Correct, this isn't an example of peer pressure. In this scenario, you and your friends haven’t all been influenced by your other friend bragging about how great the party was. You talked about it between you, and no-one felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t want to do. You have all respected each other’s decisions without judgement.
true or false
You’ve been invited by your best friend’s family to go on holiday to an all-inclusive resort. Your best friend mentions how she’s looking forward to trying lots of cocktails at the free bar as they don’t ID you. You say that you’ll be sticking to the mocktails as you’ve promised your parents you won’t be drinking. She says that she understands as that was one of the conditions your parents set when allowing you to go.
TRUE FALSE
Incorrect, this isn't an example of peer pressure. Despite being excited by the thought of cocktails on holiday, your best friend understands your point of view and why you won’t be drinking. You are respecting your parents’ wishes, and she isn’t putting pressure on you to drink alcohol with her.
Correct, this isn't an example of peer pressure. Despite being excited by the thought of cocktails on holiday, your best friend understands your point of view and why you won’t be drinking. You are respecting your parents’ wishes, and she isn’t putting pressure on you to drink alcohol with her.
true or false
One of your friends comes up to you and mentions he’s noticed that you’ve seemed a bit down lately. He pulls out a can of beer from his bag and hands it over to you, telling you it’s just the thing to cheer you up, and that once you’ve had one, you’ll definitely want another. You take it from him and head home, worried about whether to drink it or not.
TRUE FALSE
Correct, this is an example of peer pressure. In this situation, you are being pressured to drink as you’ve been told you’ve been looking very down lately. Whether you've been feeling down or not, drinking alcohol might make you feel better for a short time, but could also make you feel worse. Your friend shouldn’t be telling you what you need, but should be asking if you’re ok.
Incorrect, this is an example of peer pressure. In this situation, you are being pressured to drink as you’ve been told you’ve been looking very down lately. Whether you've been feeling down or not, drinking alcohol might make you feel better for a short time, but could also make you feel worse. Your friend shouldn’t be telling you what you need, but should be asking if you’re ok.

How to get help

Did you know there’s a confidential text service called Chat Health for getting in touch with a public health nurse (school nurse)? The box at the bottom of the page, ‘Find Help in Your Local Area’, will show you if it’s available where you live. You can also find out more here:

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Scenario One

It can be very difficult when you’re at a party with friends and everyone else is drinking. You can feel left out if you don’t want to drink. But alcohol affects everyone differently, and if you’re not used to drinking, you can feel out of control quite quickly.

Health professionals advise that if you’re under 15,you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all. This is because it can interfere with the normal development of organs like the brain, liver and bones, as well as affecting your hormones.

How alcohol affects your health explains what alcohol does to your body in the short term and over time. It tells you why you can experience a temporary high after having alcohol, and then feel really low.

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Scenario Two

When all eyes fall on you, you can feel a huge pressure to have a drink so you feel part of the group. 3 ways to deal with peer pressure has some good examples of things you can say in tricky situations like this.

Remember, real friends should listen and respect your decision. If you’re regularly feeling under pressure from your friends, you can always get in touch with your public health nurse (school nurse). They’ll talk to you and give you advice  on what to do.

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Scenario Three

In a good friendship group, everyone’s decisions are respected and no-one forces anyone to do something they don’t want to do.

If you or your friends were to decide to go to a party like this, it’s good to be aware how much alcohol is in different drinks, including beer, wine, shots and alcopops. How much is safe to drink not only tells you how many units of alcohol there are in different drinks, but also gives you the recommended limits.

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Scenario Four

Respect is the main focus in this example. Your friend is respecting your decision not to drink on holiday, and you’re respecting your parents’ request that you don’t drink while you’re away.

If you or your friends do drink alcohol, there are some activities that you should avoid until the alcohol’s completely out of your system. 5 things to avoid after drinking alcohol explains more.

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Scenario Five

Whether you’re feeling low or not, drinking alcohol isn’t the way to make you feel better. If you’d like to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, go and see your public health nurse (school nurse) in school – they’ll listen to your concerns and give you some help. Low mood: Just the facts will help you identify with some of the symptoms.

It’s also important to think about the risks that come with drinking:  9 real life risks of drinking too much alcohol

Friends should be on hand to support you and, rather than encouraging you to drink to lift your mood, should be spending time with you to make sure you’re ok.

 

Find help in your local area

Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.