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What to Know About Peer Pressure of Drinking?

Teenage drinking is a big problem around the world, and research shows that being exposed to alcohol early on is usually linked to long-term health and social effects. The World Health Organization says that about 11% of all alcohol use is by people ages 15 to 19. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that 38% of teens have tried alcohol by the eighth grade. Peer pressure is very important because teens are usually affected by their friends and social norms, which makes drinking alcohol before they are older a big problem.

8 Minute Read | Published Sep 25 2023 | Updated May 31 2024 Expert Verified
David Levin
Reviewed by
David Levin
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On the other hand, adult alcohol use is complicated and depends on national standards, socioeconomic position, and peer interactions. The World Health Organization warns that excessive drinking can lead to liver disease and mental illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that drinking too much kills about 95,000 people in the US every year. Because drinking is part of social activities and rituals, peer pressure still exists, making people do what others do.

Education, law, and community action are needed to combat alcoholism. Preventive treatments for children usually include education campaigns and enforcing legal drinking age limitations. Similarly, programs for adults try to promote safe drinking behaviors and provide supportive environments. Efforts to decrease peer pressure's influence include strengthening peer relationships and increasing individual autonomy in decision-making to lower alcohol consumption in social settings. 

How Are Peer Pressure and Drinking Linked?

Peer pressure and drinking often go hand in hand, especially among teens and young adults, but it can happen to anyone. How to do it:

1. Social norms:

Social norms in a group are a common source of peer pressure. Many groups of people, especially teens and young adults, think it's okay to drink alcohol. Some people might think they must follow these rules to be liked by their peers or fit in.

2. The need to be accepted by others:

People are social animals and naturally want to fit in and be liked by their peers. This need to be liked by their peers can make people do things, like drinking, that they might not normally do to get liked or escape being rejected by their peers.

3. Modeling Behavior: 

Watching friends drink can make a person drink more since it could create a sense of acceptance. Other people usually seem like a mirror of what is right.

4. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO):

FOMO is very common and leads some people to drink too much just to avoid missing out on whatever it is they think is going on. Many people sometimes feel it is a mandate to go to all parties or gatherings and participate in all activities, including drinking, for fear of missing out and for fear of losing their friends or not being able to make friends. In the case of adults, FOMO especially affects their beliefs about being able to do networking.

5. Less Control:

People who give in to peer pressure often lack self-control, act without thinking, and take risks incorrectly. They may become less careful and not think about the bad things that can happen when they drink too much, or they might not even realize they have had too much.

6. Making friends:

It's a common misconception that drinking in public makes it easier to make friends. People who are shy or socially nervous are more likely to experience this.

Finally, it's important to remember that peer pressure is a big reason people drink, but it doesn't affect everyone. How much your peers encourage you to drink depends on your personality, how well you can handle stress, your beliefs, and your self-esteem. 

What Is Peer Pressure of Drinking?

When people's family and friends try to get them to drink, this is called peer pressure to drink. If you're with other drinkers, like at a party, get-together, or a place where people go out at night, you probably feel this way. It can be overt social cues, direct peer pressure, or the idea that drinking with friends is acceptable.

Some people drink because they want to be like their friends, avoid social events, or follow what they think are the rules about drinking in society. The young and the soon-to-be adults are always trying to figure out who they are, how to fit in with their peers, and how to make friends.

Pressure from friends to drink can change the behavior of more than one person. Because of this, people may change their social norms and how they treat each other. It has been looked into how making drinking too much seem normal can keep people drinking in dangerous ways. People can also change how they feel and what they think about drinking properly by being around people who drink.

Recognizing the effects of peer pressure and encouraging people to find other social activities and ways to deal with their problems is important for helping people have better relationships with alcohol and giving them the power to make smart choices about how much they drink.

Does Peer Pressure Only Affect Young People's Drinking Behavior?

Peer pressure influences drinking behavior beyond youth, affecting people of all ages. While teenagers are frequently portrayed as particularly vulnerable due to their developmental stage and the importance of peer interactions, adults are not immune to the influence of their social circles on alcohol use.

There are many social situations where adult peers can put pressure on you to drink. At work-related parties, for example, there may be clear or unspoken assumptions that people will drink to make friends or find new business contacts. In the same way, there may be social norms that say you have to drink at events with friends or family to have more fun or connect with others.

Also, the way people are expected to drink can have a big effect on peer pressure among adults. Individuals in communities where consuming alcohol is firmly ingrained in social rituals or where abstaining from alcohol is stigmatized may feel compelled to conform to these cultural expectations, even if they prefer not to drink.

Peer pressure can have a significant impact on adult drinking behavior, resulting in moderate to excessive alcohol use. Suppose we want to support a responsible drinking culture and assist individuals in making decisions consistent with their beliefs. In that case, we must be conscious of and address this specific effect. It is critical to concentrate on education, increase awareness, and establish settings that encourage personal development and positive connections to help young people avoid drinking and adults moderate or abstain from drinking.

Here is a table that highlights the differences between peer pressure in teenagers and adults:




Influenced by

Peers, classmates, social media, celebrities.

Colleagues, friends, family, social media.

Choices affected

Often affects decisions on appearance, hobbies, friendships, and academic performance.

It can influence career choices, financial decisions, lifestyle choices, and personal beliefs.


More susceptible due to the desire for acceptance and identity formation.

Vulnerable due to desire for social acceptance, desire to fit in, and fear of judgment.

Types of Pressure

Pressure to conform, try risky behaviors,  experiment with substances, or engage in inappropriate activities.

Pressure to conform to workplace norms, maintain certain lifestyle standards, conform to societal expectations.

Coping Mechanisms

Limited coping skills may resort to risky behaviors or withdrawal.

More developed coping skills, may use assertiveness, negotiation, or seeking support.

Long-term Impact

Can lead to lasting effects on self-esteem, mental health, and future relationships.

It can affect career trajectory, financial stability, and overall well-being.

How to Deal with Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure can be dealt with in several ways, especially when it comes to drinking. Making your own decisions and knowing yourself are a few of them, and they will help you in social situations. Remember, it is important to do what you think is right. Hanging out with friends who understand and support your decisions is also beneficial. It helps to prevent negative results. Education is also crucial. Knowing the risks of drinking can help people resist peer pressure and make sound decisions.

In the case of parents and guardians, the ideal is to provide children with a safe environment to have open conversations, show their feelings, reinforce their strengths, and have a trustworthy place to go when hesitating about decisions such as consuming alcohol or other drugs. Also, educating children about the risks of alcohol consumption and trying to be a role model are helpful.

Anticipating peer pressure and knowing how to deny alcohol graciously will help you deal with difficult situations. Seeking guidance from trustworthy educators, friends, or family members motivates and supports you, emphasizing the importance of living your principles. Establishing clear drinking boundaries and informing your friends about them might help you maintain independence and integrity in social situations.

Prioritizing self-care and managing stress should be your top priorities. Reducing your susceptibility to peer pressure and increasing your likelihood of making healthier decisions will improve your health. If people apply these strategies daily, they can respond to peer pressure in a way that demonstrates their integrity, self-assurance, and commitment to their well-being and opinions.


bullet WHO
"Youth and alcohol: do new trends demand new solutions?"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet NIAAA
"Underage Drinking in the United States (ages 12 to 20)"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet NIAAA
"Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths in the United States"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet Springer
"Peer pressure and alcohol consumption in adults living in the UK: a systematic qualitative review"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet Wiley
"Fear of missing out and binge-drinking among adolescents"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet Taylor & Francis Online
"Peer Pressure and Substance Use in Emerging Adulthood: A Latent Profile Analysis"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet Taylor & Francis Online
"Doing adulthood—doing alcohol: what happens when the ‘sober generation’ grows up?"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"Role of Family and Peers in Initiation and Continuation of Substance Use"
Retrieved on May 31, 2024

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