A young person looks away while she stands between two other young people.

Coping with peer pressure to drink alcohol

  • 5 min read
  • 25 August 2022

Author: Tegan, 17

Topics mentioned: drugs and alcohol, friends, peer pressure

About: Tegan explains her experience of peer pressure to drink alcohol, how she copes, and shares tips and phrases to help others who are struggling.


Peer pressure is something that we all experience in life. Whether it be someone we know telling us to do something or just the pressure from society to fit in. Many of us experience wanting to fit in with everyone else and be liked.

I am very lucky to have amazing friends who would never pressure me to do anything, but there have been many situations where I have had to behave differently to the crowd. For example, I don’t drink and almost all of my friends do. So, at parties when everyone is drunk, I have had to stand my ground and be the only one who isn’t.

Of course, everyone wants to fit in and to be liked by their friends. It can be hard when you feel pressured to do something that you don’t want to do.

How you cope with peer pressure will be determined by your motives for being different. For example, drinking is something that I have no interest in, so even if someone was to try and encourage me, I wouldn’t feel tempted because I have never wanted to drink alcohol. Whereas someone who doesn’t drink because their parents told them not to may find it harder to resist the urge, because it’s not the way they feel themselves.

Of course, everyone wants to fit in and be liked by their friends. It can be hard when you feel pressured to do something that you don’t want to do. But very often fitting in is something that is only going on inside your head. Most people are so consumed by their own lives that they are not thinking about you and whether or not you are behaving like everyone else.

My advice for someone who is struggling with peer pressure to drink alcohol

I hope these tips will help you cope with peer pressure too.

This is something you are told all the time but when dealing with peer pressure, it is the most important factor. You should never do anything that you don’t want to do, or that puts yourself or others in danger. I find it helpful to think, ‘How would I feel if my granny found out I’d done this?’ You could also try asking yourself, ‘What advice would I give a friend who came to me with this problem?’

Remember that real friends wouldn’t pressure you to do anything, so if your friends are doing that then it might be time to reconsider who your friends are.

Often peer pressure is not serious and is something you can learn to handle yourself. But sometimes it is serious, and if you feel scared, in danger or as though someone else could be at risk, you should tell someone you trust straight away.

Say one friend is trying to get another to try vaping and they don’t want to do it, but the friend is being relentless. You could go up to them and tell them that they said no, and they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do. You could also make an excuse to get your friend to come with you and away from the pressure.

Sometimes making jokes about your beliefs on a matter can make people view it in a more light-hearted way and when the time comes will not be expecting you to do it anyway. For instance, me and my friends always joke about me being the designated driver and so when we come to parties, they know that I don’t want to drink and so never ask me to.

My final piece of advice is to explain your reasons for not wanting to do something. People may respect the choice more if they understand it. When dealing with peer pressure to drink alcohol, I explain my personal reasons why I choose not to drink, and even though I don’t mind others drinking, I’ve been really put off and it is of no interest to me at all. Usually people can see why I have made that choice and respect it.

Useful phrases to deal with peer pressure to drink alcohol

Here are some phrases you can use when you feel pressured to do something you don't want to do.

  • You guys go ahead, but I’m going to sit this one out.
  • That seems kind of dangerous, I know I’m being such a wimp right now but I’d rather not do that.
  • I don’t have any interest in [insert activity] but you guys have fun.
  • I've got to get up early for work/school tomorrow. I have a big test and I really can’t afford to miss it.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Drink Aware

    Provide support, information and advice about the impact of alcohol on you, your family or friends.

    Free webchat service available (hours vary).

    Opening times:
    9am - 8pm, Monday - Friday; 11am - 4pm, weekends
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:

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