Abstract

Peer pressure is a feeling that emerges from the individual need for approval and acceptance of equal rights. This behavioural pattern begins at in early age and continues although life to adulthood but it is at peak during adolescent stage.

The teenagers are in the process of declining the parental guidance since they need their freedom and at the same time are trying to win the support and acceptance from their fellow work groups such as friends or classmates. Their strong struggle to exist as part of a group thus increases the urgency for independence need for finding an identity. The quest for approval within their peer groups motivates the adolescent behaviour.

Although peer pressure is a negative influence over personality, it can be a positive force supporting the decision making procedures and helping teenagers to settle for the best option in tough situations. When one accepts to put up with negative peer pressure, they end up giving up the personal trusts and values thus the pressure becomes a form of a negative force.

Thesis statement

“Does peer pressure affect the decision to use and abuse of drugs?” This paper is an analysis of the effect of peer pressure to the usage of drugs and its possibilities as well as implication to future addictions. It is an analysis of the behavioural patterns and lastly it analyzes the available perspectives into controlling the vice.

Objective/significance of the study

The main objective of the paper focuses on causes of drug abuse among the youth whose main determinant is peer pressure and evaluates the developmental problems associated with this type of vice. Another significance of the study focuses on the global approach towards curbing the vice and creating public awareness over drug usage and abuse.

The paper also forms an analysis over issue of other probable cause in the subject matter. Are people utilizing the appropriate measures to get rid of the vice? The analysis of what determines addictions. Lastly, it addresses the issue of utilizing the new professional suggested measures to getting rid of this common phenomenon.

The procedure of the study

The literature reviews will enable better understanding of the topic. Preparation of the research proposal over the chosen topic enhances and quantifies the research as a study topic and prepares for respondents.

Information collected tabulates and ranks the findings to broad areas and helps to narrow the scope to the objectives of the study analysis. The analysis then draws the conclusion from generally analyzed data in the literature review.

Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study is to evaluate drugs use and abuse among the youth and offer suggestions from the research on ways of reducing or eliminating this social problem.

Literature review

Insinuations for understanding behaviour

In most cases, it would be invariable to have a linkage between development of the brain and the behaviours emulated by adolescents. Scientifically the argument over the link indicates that under high emotional or intense peer pressure, there are some conditions at the maturing front part of the brain that necessitate devastating inexplicable performance leading to poor decision making such as use of drugs. (Santrock, 2006)

The adolescents have the ability and rationale to differentiate between the right and wrong. This is an indication that the brain has the capacity to demonstrate some mental ability to decision making, but the teenager acts in opposition to this expectation.

According to Nestler and Malenka, (2004) the brains of a teenager is under some less optimal control mechanisms and thus under higher probability to act from guts or instincts in submitting to the option of taking drugs when confronted with stressful or emotional strains. Under such conditions, they are not able to be thankful for any instantaneous outcomes for their accomplishments.

Compared to adults, on average, the adolescents are more impetuous, insistent, volatile emotionally, high risk takers, proactive and reactive to strain or stress and are susceptible to peer pressure. (Nestler and Malenka, 2004) They focus on the short time payoffs, which they over estimate to a point of underrating any long-term consequences that may be involved. They are prone to overlooking the alternative course of actions.

The developing brain and drug abuse

Young people are often curious about drugs and thus the common definition of the adolescence stage being a time of experimenting and seeking novelty. The survey conducted in the U.S. indicates that the use of drugs such as tobacco and alcohol is a common phenomenon among the youths before they hit the legal requirement age for the use. (Johnson et al., 2006)

The survey also indicated that at least half or more of the teenagers try out the drugs during the adolescent stage and nearly all have tried before reaching the legal age. Today the youth show higher rates of or percentage of alcohol problems as opposed to the older age groups. (Spear, 2002)

Vulnerability of adolescents to drug abuse

The adolescent brain may be more vulnerable to social discomforts due to sensitivity to alcohol effects. These social effects can bring about pleasurable social experiences during alcohol abuse such as contributing to the feeling of less shyness than the expectations. (Spear, 2002)

The effects are enormous compared to the same alcoholic effects on an adult. In the studies of adolescents indicated by Erk (2004), characteristically, adolescents are able to get through two or three times more alcohol than the adults because their intoxication effects are much higher.

They have a diminished sensitivity to intoxication due to the high metabolic rates. The hormones also play a vital role in the drug abuse. The adolescents have novelty to seek and promote competitiveness socially. The production of hormones promotes abuse because of the original occurrence of peer pressure for the individual to seek social approval from the peer friends. (Erk, 2004)

Human growth and development

During their life spans, human beings expectation to grow and change socially, emotionally, behaviourally, physically and cognitively is very important. Through analysis of some developmental life-span stages, there is a possibility of determining disorders or crisis such as drug abuse affecting adolescents.

The counsellors are in a position to know what kind of behavioural pattern to expect from children, adolescents, adults thus the ability to suggest the developmental concerns and appropriate actions to take. In line with Erk writing, (2004) there are some expectations regarding differences in physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural patterns with regard to individual age bracket.

The adolescents face many challenges relating to their transition from childhood to adulthood. The physical changes on their bodies is inevitable, they also have the pressure from the need to make decisions, the feel the need to explore their sexuality and deal with novel emotional feelings concern with uncertain and impulsive activities. (Stantrock, 2006) These transitional issues of the adolescents require critical concerns in the counselling procedures.

On this context, the issues of identity crisis, self-esteem and development emotionally are some key considerations during counselling procedures. Their appearance to others is an important issue because they believe to own unique problems and all the public attention focuses particularly upon them. They face the challenges of discovering their identity in terms of vocation, relationship, sexuality, gender, life interests, personality and culture/ethnicity. (Santrock, 2006)

The hormonal changes are the emotional changes experienced by adolescents. Moodiness and impetuousness brings about these changes. Peer pressure, conflicts, the need to find self-belonging and the desire for freedom especially from the parents causes the emotional stress. This is the main logic behind the importance of an “identity, self esteem and emotional development” for an adolescent. (Santrock, 2006)

Root cause of drugs use and possible solutions

Human beings have to make decisions every now and then based on the challenge at hand. There are many different reasons why people use drugs or alcohol, probably to relax, have fun, find rest, forget problems, and mostly to emulate friends. The youth mostly engage in drugs because they know someone who does the same and is successful. They fancy the lives of others and thus mimic their style in the aim of trying to find their personal styles.

Peer pressure means the external or internal anxiety people feel to be like others. Peer pressure is a fine act as long as it serves the role of determining the right character in a person or the outlook that people would wish to talk about or emulate. This is arguably the reason why the Americans teenagers mimic the same lifestyles ad have similar talking style.

The reason for discussing peer pressure is the problems it causes. People in a groups act differently and do some weird activities they would probably not do on their own. This is an identity of a group as opposed to that of an individual. The control placed on these behaviours can easily crumple before the achievement of that valued need.

Peer pressure is more often hard to resist because it is equally very hard to notice. The wisest decision one would make is to have a personal pull or reflection of life and be aware of the pressure by understanding the achievement or aims of participating. According to Erk, (2004) personal choices are very important even when the pressure from the peer groups is irresistible.

The strongest predictor of drug use during adolescence is the peer influence. The peer initiate the use, provides the drugs and models the use and abuse behaviors and attitudes towards them. Studies have indicated that peers are more likely to give in to drug usage if they were from single parent families or stepparent homes. (Johnson et al 2006) The peer pressure and drug models relates to drug use and abuse.

Another critical interpreter of drugs use and abuse is early on commencements by the user. The abusers whose initiation into drug usage occurs at an age lower than fourteen years have a higher tendency of abusing and misusing drugs in future beside the likelihood of influencing others compared to their counterparts who began usage in high schools or collages. There is a common trend of noticing drug use and abuse during the school or college years and a continual peak of the vice even after collage.

This is a strong indication of future problems among the teenagers. They face a huge challenge of increased maturity and changes of the lifestyle that that easily leads to unemployment, marriage related problems such as marital conflicts, and reduced cessation of drug use. The existence or of social settings where the drug abuse existed before is a suggested sign that the trend may stay and if the teenagers had stopped to use, then the trendy easily resumes.

Peer pressure on use of drugs on a teenager leads to addiction or continual usage thus a trend that causes solitary usage. In most instances, the pressure occurs mainly during some social events and the probability is continual usage during such periods but when solitary use occurs, then the addict has greater future problems related to chronic addiction and isolation from the rest or even communication problems that may lead to mental complications.

At the low levels, involvement in drug usage and abuse comes from peer pressure, availability of the drugs and other social, family or environmental risk factors. In line with Erk, (2004) “the escalation or maintenance of high level of usage often results from biological, psychological, and psychiatric characteristics of an individual.” There are also chances of inherited characteristics causing more vulnerability to drugs that are available in the home settings.

The psychological and psychiatric traits may also be traits inherited form abusing parents. The vulnerability of drug usage highly depends on the characteristics of the user as opposed to the characteristic of the drug. The maladjustment on the social and psychological characteristics is what mainly characterizes precedence to the first usage. The behaviors of a child at a young age can equally show the serious drug usage.

What cause addiction?

The properties that lead to addiction are not present at psychoactive drug usage. The teens who are deceived to using but fellow peers only does so for a while and have low probability of becoming addicts. The psychologically involved youths, the experimental tasks also do not easily leads to advanced future consequences but the emotionally and psychologically involved youths easily become addicts.

Conclusion

Social settings can give the impression that drug usage is under control but a closer look at the phenomenon indicates that everyday a teenager is starting to use and becomes addicted to the vice.

Possibly the pressure involved among the peer groups is great for most of them to resist unless there is an intervention by the authorities and manly the parents. (Erk, 2004) Today most of the parents are full-time employees probably looking for the overtime and better remuneration in support of the family. They may be trying to workout one area while the other collapses.

The biggest problem in majority of the minds lies on the reason why the teens continually use the drugs. The most probable answer is within the family setting. They are emulating their parents who are their first role models; they embrace the social settings where they meet friends who deceive them to try out the common drugs such as tobacco or alcohol and the solitary use due to stress.

Whichever the case, parents are the most effective cure to the vice. It is the parental responsibility and not the tutor or teacher’s responsibility to face the problem and talk out with the teenagers on the dangers involved before things are out of hand.

Their temporary rebellion against the parents can easily lead to the repercussions thus leading to the catastrophic impacts. The early interventions by the parents whenever they note change of behavior are the best procedure to cubing the vice. The strength of character that assists the child to resists the negative influences directly connects to the parental roles of guidance.

References

Erk, R. (2004). Counseling treatment for children and adolescents with DSM-TR disorders. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Person Prentice Hall.

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., & Bachman, J. G. (2006). Monitoring the Future national Survey results on drug use, 1975-2005. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nestler, E. J., and Malenka, R. C. (2004). The addicted brain. Scientific American Journal, 290 (3), 78-85.

Santrock, J. (2006). Life-span development (10th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill

Spear, L. P. (2002). Alcohol’s effects on adolescents. Journal of Alcohol Health and Research World, Vol 26(4), Pp. 287-291.