The facts about underage drinking and how to cope with peer pressure…
You’re out at the weekend with a group of mates when someone whips out a bottle of vodka and starts passing it around. As it nears you, you feel your stomach start to knot and your palms start to sweat – what do you do? How do you say no without being made fun of? Will they laugh at you for not joining in or call you a ‘wuss’?
Peer pressure is one of the toughest things a teenager can face. You want to fit in so badly, the last thing you want is to say or do anything that might make you different from everyone else. You fear losing your friends and being alone but it is always OK to say no to something you don’t feel comfortable with. You don’t have to do something just because everyone else is – you are your own person and can make your own choices. Good friends will accept and respect your decisions.
How To Say No
It’s never easy to say no when your friends are trying to convince you. Take a deep breath and be assertive. Shake your head in a definite manner, smile and say, “No, thank you.”
If your friends continue to push, you can always reiterate your decision by saying something like, “I’ll pass, thanks!” or mention that you have something important on the next day and need to have a clear head. Or you could say that you’re having plenty of fun without alcohol. Whatever you choose to say, keep eye contact and speak confidently to make sure your choice is heard and understood.
Alcohol: Getting Drunk
Being drunk alters the way you think and act. Even a small drop of alcohol can affect your brain, making it harder to make sensible and safe decisions. This can put you at greater risk of having an accident or being hurt or taken advantage of by someone. Alcohol can also:
- Make you become aggressive or violence.
- Make you say or do things you’ll later regret and feel embarrassed about.
- Make you feel teary or depressed.
- Make you physically sick.
- Put you at risk of passing out and choking on your own vomit which can lead to life-changing injuries or even death.
- Have a negative effect on your mental health – alcohol is a depressant.
- Hit you quickly and take you by surprise, especially if you’re small or haven’t eaten a full meal.
- Make you feel invincible, like nothing can harm you. This can lead to you making risky decisions and putting yourself in danger.
Alcohol: What’s The Law?
Let’s take a quick look at the laws around alcohol:
- You must be 18 to buy alcohol and you will most likely be asked for ID. It is illegal to buy alcohol for someone who is under 18. If you’re 16 or over, you can have a wine, beer or cider with a meal in a restaurant.
Getting More Help
If you need more advice about alcohol or dealing with peer pressure, you can chat to our friendly Hidden Strength community or counsellors on our free app.
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