The peer pressure to drink
I got an email this week from someone worried about quitting drinking and then having to battle against the peer pressure and social pressure to have a drink.
This leaped out at me because at last week’s Quit Drinking Bootcamp in New York this very issue was a huge obstacle for one lady at the event.
She was a corporate lawyer and socializing with clients and alcohol seemed to her to be unbreakably linked.
So let’s talk about the peer pressure to drink
Alcohol is a unique drug, a drug that we don’t even like to call a drug. It is the only substance that we have universally agreed is not only socially acceptable but it is expected in everyday society and social occasions.
Over hundreds of years, the alcohol producers have cleverly woven alcohol into the fabric of western lifestyle.
The chances are good that your very birth was toasted with a glass of sparkling poison and equally, your death will be commiserated in the same with, perhaps with a different type of alcohol, more befitting the occasion.
Drinking diluted poison makes no logical sense. It is an entirely indefensible act and yet we have found ways to conveniently look the other way.
For example. We have declared that drinking first thing in the morning is a bad thing, a sign of a problem and something to be frowned upon. Unless you are in an airport, then apparently it’s fine.
The world has gone mad
With this sort of garbage logic around, on the surface, it is hard to understand why anyone has a problem resisting the peer pressure to drinking alcohol.
The arguments for consumption are so nonsensical that one wonders how any sane person could even consider it. But then the world is full of decisions that don’t make sense. There are millions of seemingly normal human beings out there who voted for such backward concepts as Brexit and Trump too.
But let’s not get too political here. Human beings do hugely self-destructive things, yes, but that does not dictate that we have to follow along like sheep.
Pain and pleasure
It’s true that when you quit drinking, a lot of your drinking buddies are going to get upset and try their very best to get you off the wagon. Their reason for doing this is mainly subconscious. Your decision to stop drinking poison for fun highlights the stupidity of their own behavior around this drug.
By raising your standards you have caused them a huge amount of psychological pain.
At this point, they have two options. They can also stop drinking and raise their standards to your new level. Or they can try and get you to drink again, perhaps an easier path to the same result.
So, your drinking buddies suggest that you are not as much fun as before, are boring or that perhaps even that ‘you’ve changed’. A vague but powerfully negative suggestion.
Change the drug to see the truth
While this sort of peer pressure to drink feels powerful and difficult to resist, you only have to change the drug to see the illogical nature of the situation.
It is only because the whole western world lives in a bubble of unreality that states that a drug which kills over 3,000,000 people every year is a harmless bit of fun, that this pressure is even a ‘thing’ at all.
Imagine if you walked into a bar and all your friends were sniffing glue. They invited you to join them, and when you declined they started with the old peer pressure routine. Suggesting that you are dull and boring because you won’t sniff the solvents with them.
Would this nonsense make the slightest bit of difference? Would you bow to their insane peer pressure, or would you think they were a bunch of druggie losers, best avoided?
No safety in numbers
Drinkers like to drink together because it gives them valuable social proof to defend the indefensible. However, there is no safety in numbers when it comes to drinking. In the same way, there is no safety in numbers when it comes to playing Russian Roulette. It doesn’t matter if a thousand people are playing the game or just you, the odds never change.
Assuming there is a level of protection by drinking in a group is the same nonsense that dictates that drinking first thing in the morning is bad unless you happen to be in an airport.
Would you jump off a cliff
The final point I want to make about this peer pressure to drink alcohol that we must endure on our sober journey comes back to something your mother once asked you.
If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?
When I was at school I used to hang out with a pretty tough gang of kids. Not because I was tough but because I was smart enough to see that it was a good bet.
The fact that some of my best friends were the toughest kids in school meant that I was pretty bulletproof.
However, membership of such a notorious group was not free. To be a part of this collection of tough guys required regular demonstrations of worthiness.
Stupid choices for stupid reasons
One day a friend of mine called Suhail returned from a trip to his home country of Egypt. He brought back with him a small packet of brown seeds, which he insisted had the same effect as extasy tablets.
He dared me to swallow one.
Despite being acutely aware that he probably had no idea what the seeds were and that the very thought of swallowing an anonymous brown seed was a profoundly stupid thing to do – I still swallowed the seed.
I did it because I was 12 years old and the approval of the group was really important to me.
Needless to say, I got violently ill and ended up missing three days of school – which led to me getting grounded.
Maturity brings certainty
Would I swallow the seed today?
Of course not, but then I am a 44-year-old man who understands that he doesn’t need to approval of other people to be happy or successful.
Most of the people who come to a Quit Drinking Bootcamp are over 30 years of age. They have worked out who they are as a man or woman and they have established their own moral compass on life.
The peer pressure to drink or to do anything should not exist for mature, established individuals like this.
Imagine, if your friends were doing heroin, would peer pressure work on you? I highly doubt it, because you firmly believe that heroin is not who you are. So what I am suggesting is, if you are using peer pressure to drink as a justification for falling off the wagon.
What you have there is not a valid explanation but an excuse without any real foundations.
Passion and persistence
Living a happy sober life is something you need to own. In the same way that Veganism is a passion as well as a way of life.
Be proud to be a person who chooses not to drink the poison, own it and make it a part of your moral compass.
Passion and persistence are the keys to success when it comes to learning how to stop drinking and living a happy sober life. If you need any help click here for more information on my online course or live Quit Drinking Bootcamp tour.