Why do our friends push us to drink? – To hack

Have you ever tried to give up or cut back on alcohol just to have your friends roast you?

Maybe you’re doing it to get in good shape, or you’re taking medications that don’t mix with alcohol, or you just feel like you’ve been drinking more than you should. But you found that your friends weren’t very supportive.

Simon Lenton, professor and director of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, says peer pressure is very real and in fact hardwired in humans.

“We tend to hang out with people who like to do the same kinds of things as we do, so there’s kind of an innate tendency within groups to reinforce similar behaviors and avoid different behaviors,” he says.

He says when you’ve been drinking with your friends in a certain way for a long time and then decide to cut back, it’s only natural for them to resist it.

“It’s kind of like you hand them a mirror and say, ‘I’m cutting, why don’t you cut,’ so that can be a bit of a challenge for people,” he says.

Why don’t our friends like it when we don’t drink?

Research on the negative reactions towards non-drinkers shows that the problem is not just Australian.

This also occurs in countries where the culture of consumption varies such as the United States, Mexico, Japan, Finland and African countries.

“It’s not that they’re trying to attack or undermine you, but more than on a subconscious level people tend to want us to do the same kinds of things they do,” says Simon.

Basically we are tribal social animals who have evolved to fit in.

Research also shows that some people are more likely to collapse under peer pressure, such as social drinkers, defined risk drinkers as those who drink more than six drinks in a single session per week, and people who enjoy themselves.

“If you’re the type of person who’s pretty concerned with what people think of you, then that’s probably going to make you more sensitive too, because you won’t want to do things that make you stand out from the crowd,” says Simon.

How to improve your relationship with alcohol

The key is to focus on sustainable drinking behaviors according to Andy Miller, co-founder of alcohol-free beer company Heaps Normal.

“The most important thing is not to give up alcohol, it’s to think about what works for you,” he says.

He believes that Dry July has done a lot to shine a light on Australia’s drinking culture, but also accepts that it might not work for everyone.

He came up with the idea of ​​a “dry” July, where the focus is on conscious drinking habits that work beyond that month.

“I think one of the most important things about it isn’t preparing yourself for failure and feeling guilty if you fall off the wagon,” Andy said.

“[Be] nice to yourself, instead of drinking six beers, drink five beers or drink one less beer instead of boom to bust. “

How to reduce without losing our social lives?

Simon has some ideas on how to approach these social situations and avoid peer pressure.

  • Have a very clear idea in your head of why you actually want to cut down or stop drinking
  • Don’t be surprised if you feel like your friends are undermining your efforts to reduce
  • Prepare yourself with a good cover story like “I’m driving”, “I’m taking medication” or “I’m trying to be healthier”
  • Make a solid plan when you’re in a drinking situation, such as limiting your spending, starting with a low-alcohol drink, or switching to a low or non-alcoholic drink on each alternate round
  • Determine which of your friends are likely to support your decision and ask them to support you when you say no to a drink

Simon says if none of this works and you’re determined to cut down on your drinking, be honest and realistic about what you need to do.

“You always have the option of what I call pulling the trigger cord and just deciding, ‘okay, that really doesn’t work, actually what I have to do in this situation is get out of the way. situation, “” he says.

About Michael Brafford

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