This is part 3 of a three-part series about underage drinking at Halloween or other parties.
You’re a teen at a Halloween or other kind of party. At least one other person peer pressures you to drink. What do you do?
Fight or Flight Instinct versus Self-Mentoring
When people feel fear, their fight or flight instinct becomes activated. In that case, they have three choices. As you can see by the continuum shown in the picture above, they can give in to their FIGHT instinct, they can give in to their FLIGHT instinct, or they can find a way to Self-Mentor.
You can FIGHT by finding a way to remain at the party but not giving in to the negative peer pressure to drink. You can FIGHT by standing up for yourself against the negative peer pressure, which might end with your friendship still intact or might end your friendship.
You can choose the FLIGHT option by calling your parents to pick you up and take you home. Of course, there is also the FLIGHT option of giving in to the negative peer pressure.
Or you can find a way to Self-Mentor so that you do not have to drink AND you still have your friendship intact AND your ‘cool factor’ has not been compromised. Read on for ideas on how to do that.
Comical YouTube movie to illustrate the Fight or Flight Instinct called “Fight or Flight?” by Palooza Productions.
Serious YouTube movie that demonstrates what happens to our body when we are feeling fearful emotions. It is called “How the Body Works: Physical Responses to Emotion.”
Work for a WIN-WIN with your peer pressuring friend
You’re a teenager at a party where alcohol is the main beverage being served. There are no adult chaperones. You don’t want to drink, but you fear the consequences should you say no. What do you do?
Let’s imagine that the peer pressuring friend is Dustin. The boy trying to resist his peer pressure to drink is named Joshua. This is how this could work.
Dustin: Hey, Joshua! Glad you’re here! Do you want some beer?
Joshua: No, thanks! I’ll take a Coke or Pepsi, whichever you have.
Dustin: Nah! We have that junk, but it’s no fun. Be cool! Have a beer!
Joshua can see that Dustin is going to be really stubborn and pushy about serving him some beer. Joshua felt a bolt of fear coursing through his body. The last thing he wanted was for the other kids to call him a wimp or a wuss. But at the same time, he didn’t want to get in trouble with his parents or mess up his brain cells. So, what can he do?
Self-Mentor when you feel fearful emotions
Joshua chooses to self-mentor himself by taking a deep, calming breath. He feels himself relaxing. He visibly relaxes himself even more by taking another deep breath. Then quickly, he listens for his inner wisdom to tell him what to do.
Suddenly, Joshua remembers that instead of giving in to negative peer pressure, he could give Dustin some positive peer pressure. So taking a third deep breath, from deep in his diaphragm, Joshua has the courage to say:
Joshua: No! No, thanks! But I’ve got a better idea!
Dustin: What’s that?
Joshua: Dustin, I think you should have a Pepsi!
Dustin: No, way!
Joshua: Yes, way! Come on! Be a sport! Have a Pepsi!
Dustin: No! You have a beer!
Joshua is clever. He keeps reminding himself to breathe though this whole conversation. His inner wisdom gives him another idea.
You’re being peer pressured to drink. Respond with positive peer pressure!
Joshua decides to continue his campaign of positive peer pressure. He says:
Joshua: Tell you what, Dustin! You have a Coke or Pepsi with me and I’ll THINK about having a beer.
Dustin thought this meant that Joshua would really have a beer. So he shrugged and said:
Dustin: Okay, I’ll have a Pepsi! We don’t have any Coke products.
Joshua drank his Pepsi very slowly. Dustin chugged down his Pepsi very quickly. Afterward, Dustin said:
Dustin: Okay, Joshua. I had a Pepsi. Now you have a beer.
Joshua: Uh, …, I’m still working on my Pepsi.
Dustin: Hurry up and finish.
Finally, Joshua finished. Then Dustin said again:
Dustin: Okay, Josh! It’s time for you to have a beer.
Joshua: Now wait a minute! I didn’t say I would actually have a beer. I simply said I would THINK about it if you had a Pepsi with me.
Dustin: So, have you thought about it?
Joshua: I’m still thinking. I’ll get back to you.
Give yourself an out by stalling while you strategize
Joshua knew that the longer he stalled, the more time he had to strategize on his plan. In the meantime, he continued to take deep calming breaths.
As for Dustin, he kept coming back to Joshua and asked:
Dustin: Have you decided yet?
Joshua: I’m still thinking!
After about an hour, Dustin came by again. This time, he ordered:
Dustin: All right, Joshua. It’s time for you to have a beer. You’ve been thinking long enough.
Once again, Joshua remembered to breathe. Feeling calmer, he found the strength to say:
Joshua: You’re right, Dustin. I have been thinking long enough. I believe it’s time for you and I to have another Pepsi. That’s my decision. It’s ONLY Pepsi for me.
Dustin: No way! You need to have a beer.
Joshua: Come on, Dustin! Be a pal! Have another Pepsi! And some of your good munchies.
Dustin: NO! You need to have a beer!
Try using humor to combat peer pressure
Dustin kept pushing it and pushing it. This time, Joshua tried a little humor. Still remembering to breathe, he calmly and humorously said:
Joshua: That’s kind of funny, isn’t it, Dustin? You want me to have a beer, and I would like you to have a Pepsi. Well, I’m not planning to give in. Are you planning to give in?
Dustin: No way!
Joshua: Okay, then why don’t we simply ‘agree to disagree’? You drink beer if that is what you want to do. As for me, I’ll just have another Pepsi and some of your GOOD munchies. That way, we can still be friends and won’t spend our party time arguing. Can you live with that, Dustin?
Dustin wasn’t very happy about this turn of events, but he did not argue either. He simply nodded his head and staggered off to talk to some of the other guys.
Use ‘I Messages’ to firmly take your stand not to drink
After about an hour, Dustin decided to try one more time.
Dustin: Joshua, are you ready to have a beer now?
Joshua decided to use an ‘I Message’ as he set firm boundaries with Dustin. Still remembering to breathe, Joshua said:
Joshua: Dustin, I am really glad to have you as a friend. Since you are my good friend, I need you to understand that I do NOT like beer. And even if I did, which I don’t, I do NOT wish to have any beer EVER. I would appreciate it a lot, old buddy, if you would accept that I ONLY plan to drink Pepsi tonight and that’s it – with no changing of my mind.
Dustin thought for a few moments. Finally, he shrugged and said:
Dustin: All right. Have it your way. … I guess that means that there is all the more for me and the other guys.
Successful techniques against negative peer pressure
What were some of the techniques that Joshua used to say no to Dustin’s negative peer pressure?
1. Breathe and say no.
2. Breathe and issue positive peer pressure to drink a Pepsi.
3. Say, “You have a Pepsi with me, and I’ll THINK about having a beer.” Then just keep thinking about it endlessly.
4. Listen to your inner wisdom for ideas on how to handle that person or that situation.
5. Use humor. Say, “That’s kind of funny! You want me to have a beer, and I want you to have a Pepsi. Well, I’m not going to give in. Are you?
6. Use an ‘I Message’ and set firm boundaries as you continue to say no.
Other alternatives to negative peer pressure
What else could Joshua have tried to say no to peer pressure?
1. Talk to Dustin about the health risks of drinking.
2. Talk about the laws against underage drinking.
3. Challenge him with questions like:
a. “Why do you want me to drink? Why is it so important to you?”
b. “Why do you want to drink anyway?”
c. Are you still going to be my friend if I say no?”
Really listen to his answers and combat them firmly but kindly with ideas of your own.
4. Leave the party. If you have a car, drive home. If you don’t have transportation, call your parents or guardian or another trusted adult to come and get you.
Underage drinking is against the law
Underage drinking is against the law. To find out more, please read “Laws about underage drinking at Halloween or other parties” in the resource section below.
Part 1 – Laws about underage drinking at Halloween or other parties
Part 2 – Peer pressure to underage drink at Halloween or other parties
Part 3 – Fight or Flight: Underage drink at Halloween or other parties
Other Resources about Underage Smoking
Part 1 – Laws about underage smoking at Halloween or other parties
Part 2 – Peer pressure to underage smoke at Halloween or other parties