It’s no secret that teenagers are easily influenced by their peers. Often times, what the group says is what goes; if you question it, you become the laughingstock of your peers. That is why many teenagers experience difficulty stopping an inappropriate activity once they have begun; they want to avoid ridicule at all costs.
For instance, many teenagers start smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol during their adolescent years in high school. Some of them genuinely like the substances and have no interest in quitting; they see their new group as their new home. But many become disinterested in using these substances; especially daily use as many teenagers partake in.
For these adolescents, it becomes difficult to leave a group or even to just tell the group that they are not interested in the substance. They are afraid to lose approval, or even worse, lose their friends. They’ve worked hard to reach their status and break into the group as one of the members; they don’t want to jeopardize their popularity.
The teenagers who choose not to leave a group decide to substitute one substance for another. For instance, their group may be known as the “stoners”, but the person who is not so fond of smoking decides to drink more alcohol; he now stands out in the group as the “alchy.”
As a teenager, it is very important to choose your friends wisely. Do not necessarily target the popular kids, because the popular kids can get you down a rabbit hole from which you may never come out of again. There are many different types of popular kids: you have the stoners, the druggies, the jocks, the rockstars, etc.
Remember one important take-home message: no matter who you decide to spend your free time with, always be yourself and do not do something which you do not agree with. If that means losing your role in a particular group, then lose your role! Your life is more important than satisfying a group of kids, whom in all honesty, will probably no longer be your friends during or after college.
Choices matter. Your life matters. Do the right thing!
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)