While adults may experience their own levels of social anxiety in their day-to-day lives, there are many social pressures that exist which are strictly unique to teenagers. Some examples include the pressure to fit in, the pressure to be cool or popular, to be attractive or the pressure to define one’s individual identity within a sea of high school stereotypes. For most teenagers, there are a variety of social situations they will encounter during their adolescent years, but for those teens who are leaving rehab and just reentering their daily lives, there are some specific social situations which may be best to stay away from in order to prevent the risk of temptation from resurfacing.
And by parties, I mean parties where drinking and drugs are most likely to be involved. There’s no problem attending a friend’s themed sleepover birthday party, but if this is the type of social gathering taking place with loud music, a keg and excited whispers about the parents being out of town for the weekend, it may be best to sit it out for the time being. Friends who engage in alcohol or drug use end up being one of our biggest sources of enabling. For most adolescents it’s next to impossible to remain steadfast in one’s sobriety when surrounded by those familiar people, sights, smells and opportunities.
This seems to be a very trendy pastime for teenagers who feel they have nowhere to go or nothing to do. This seems to occur particularly in cities that may not offer a lot of teenage recreational opportunities if these locations are perhaps more catered to an older or family demographic. When there is no place for friends to go and hang out together, they can sometimes end up hanging out on the streets and no good ever comes from this. It’s true what they say, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” and boredom is the #1 enemy of a recovering addict. We should be vigilant about not allowing our thoughts to wander to unproductive or tempting places. So choosing to loiter on the streets out of boredom can often lead to engaging in high-risk behavior such as gang activity or drug usage.
3. Hanging with an Inappropriately Older Crowd
This can be hazardous for both girls and boys for different reasons, but ultimately they both run the underlying risk of age inappropriate behavior. For a younger boy, this may range from early experimentation with drugs to an early introduction to gang activity. For girls, this can lead to emotional or behavioral problems due to early engagement in sexual activity and in the worst-case scenario, teenage pregnancy. Adolescents may argue that though they are young, they are emotionally mature for their age but even if this is true, unless the older crowd is engaging in productive activities based on common interests, stay clear if this group is more interested in hanging out with a young teen than with individuals their own age. Stick with positive influences that will lead you away from the risk of relapse and other high-risk activities.
Now when I talk about cliques, I don’t mean a loyal group of best friends. Instead, I’m referring to those groups we all know of that thrive from putting others down in order to gain power. If the friendship is based on surface ideals such as attractiveness and social status, it’s going to be easy to fall into the idea that you have to fit a certain mold in order to belong and the last thing you need right now is to be hard on yourself for something as personal as your body image. This is a time you should be engaging in behaviors that are building up your self-esteem, not tearing it down.
While it will undoubtedly be difficult at first to turn down these social invitations, in time it will eventually become easier, especially if you continue to focus your attention on what you will be gaining in the long run by doing so. Instead, invest your time in activities such as after-school enrichment clubs, hobbies, or exercise routines in order to fill that time more productively and to connect with a more supportive crowd.