Teenage addiction and the influence of peer pressure

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Addiction to Bad and Destructive Habits

Addiction to bad and destructive habits is a serious issue that impedes societal growth and progress. According to Jalim (2012), addiction is a sickness that requires time to treat. It is believed that drug addiction is becoming more frequent among young people than smartphone use (Richtel, 2017). Answering the following research question can help contribute to the debate on adolescent addiction and pressure. How can peer pressure affect adolescent addiction? The following is a review of the literature on the subject. It investigates the essential concepts, assesses the trustworthiness of the sources, and recommends the best technique for the study.

Identification and Definition of Key Concepts and Relevant Terms

Peer pressure is the influential force that a social group has on a person (Reach Out Australia, 2018). According to Alvarez (2015), the urge that one has to feel the sense of belonging pushes people into doing things that they would not do in a normal situation. If one suffers from this urge, the person is said to be under peer pressure. Peer pressure is the alteration of character by persons of the same group to match that of the majority (Brechwald & Prinstein, 2011).

The Concept of Teenage Addiction

The concept of teenage addiction is also crucial for one to understand when handling this research question. First, the term teenager refers to people who are in the age brackets of thirteen and nineteen years (Meley, 2018). The definition is in line with the provision of the World Health Organization which categorizes people between ten and nineteen years as adolescents (WHO, 2018). On the other hand, addiction is a person's enslavement to something thus impairing the individual's normal functioning. Therefore, teenage addiction refers to the dependence of young people on specific aspects that end up defining their lives.

Teenage Addiction

Substance abuse among teenagers is one of the significant problems that parents pay little attention to when bringing up their kids (CBS News, 2018). According to an article by the CBS News (2018), a government survey conducted in 2009 revealed that one out of ten kids between 12 and 17 years is a user of illicit substances. Teenage addiction is a concern that relates to how teenagers manage their personal life and at the same time handle the influence of their friends (Karakos, 2014). Addiction among adults is not a case of peer influence. However, among teenagers dependence can arise because of peer influence (Oliver, 2018). Oliver (2018) notes that a bulletin on the American Psychological Association Journal established that most desires of teenagers are negatively influenced by their psychological status that has not reached the point of making the right decisions.

Teenage Addiction in Most Cases

Teenage addiction in most cases is a topic that most people fail to address because they do not understand the factors that lead these people to engage in this behavior (Sussman et al., 2011). Teenage addiction is not an issue to handle with mere ignorance. It is essential to research on some of the factors that influence teenagers into making decisions based on peer pressure instead of relying on their principles. Cooper and Cooper, Jr. (2016) indicated that most teenagers tend to think from a group related perspective. Observation is also made that people in the teenage age bracket mostly have issues with their emotional intelligence (Huang et al., 2014). The research seeks to establish the reasons why most teenagers prefer getting support from their friends rather than their families.

Various Forms of Teenage Addiction

There are various forms of teenage addiction. According to Paradigm Malibu (2016), there are five principal types of behavioral addictions among the teenagers. The five include internet, gambling, gaming, sex, and shopping. Paradigm Malibu (2016) mentions substance abuse as a significant challenge despite not being among the five listed behavioral addictions. Substance abuse is given a broad definition as the use of illegal drugs, and also the wrongful use of alcohol, prescription drugs and legal substances (WebMD, 2018). However, it is worth noting that there is a difference between substance abuse and addiction. According to WebMD (2018), an abuser can quit from the behavior easily, while addiction is a disease that takes time before treatment.

Peer Pressure among Teenagers

The first thing that one should note when talking about peer pressure is the fact that it can be either positive or negative. On the positive end, peers influence each other into activities and behaviors that are beneficial to oneself (Jalim, 2012). On the contrary, Jalim (2012) notes that negative peer pressure usually leads people into harmful deeds. More emphasis is generally put on the discussion of peer pressure among the youth and teenagers than it is the case for adults. According to Bellum (2012), there are two main reasons why peer pressure among members of the young population is an issue of great concern; they are easily influenced, and they are mostly subjected to negative peer pressure.

The Scholastic (2008) Analyzed the Works of Various Researchers

The Scholastic (2008) analyzed the works of various researchers who talked about peer pressure among teenagers. Steinberg, a researcher in Philadelphia, distinguished the pressure within teenagers from that within adults by highlighting two areas (Scholastic, 2008). As per the findings of Steinberg's research, people in their teens usually concentrate on the immediate rewards of their decision as they pay little attention to the risks. Secondly, the teens are still in the process of learning the management of their impulses (Scholastic, 2008).

Based on a Research Done by Dr. B. J. Casey from the Weill Medical College

Based on a research done by Dr. B. J. Casey from the Weill Medical College, teens are accurate and keen when making decisions except for cases when they are in a heated moment or when they are in a social environment (Scholastic, 2008). In the two exceptional circumstances, Dr. Casey notes that teenagers rely on external factors such as their peers when making decisions. The Scholastic (2018) also analyzed research on teenagers' peer pressure that was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The study established that it is hard for teens to control behaviors that are risky and impulsive when their friends are around.

Credibility of Sources

The information from the Scholastic (2018) is credible given that research from experts in the field backs all the details and facts. For instance, the source refers to the works of Stenberg, a researcher, and Dr. B. J. Casey from the Weill Medical College. Being a peer-reviewed article from Family-Peer Relationships Journal, the information from Cooper and Cooper, Jr. (2016) is credible for reference. The case is also the same for Huang et al. (2014) which is an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health supported with findings from other research works. Karakos (2014) is another credible source of information adequately cited with references from peer-reviewed journal articles. The article by Meley (2018) also provides credible information concerning the age brackets for teenagers. The article refers to the definition given by the WHO which is a reliable source. The sources Brechwald & Prinstein (2011) and Sussman et al. (2011) are relevant to the research topic thus making them credible for this literature review. They are articles on adolescents and the majority's influence respectively.

Information from newspaper articles in most cases is incredible due to lack of verification and citation of the facts mentioned. However, Oliver (2018) posted credible data on the U.S. News. While claiming the peer pressure on teenagers is harmful, the editor quotes data from the American Psychological Association Journal. Alvarez (2015) also posts a credible article on the Fox News. Dr. Manny Alvarez analyzes statistics from reliable sources before making his arguments. For example, he uses findings from studies done by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Information Center for Pain Medication Addiction.

Bellum (2012) is also a credible source since the work was posted on the website of the National Institutes of Health which is acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The data picked from Paradigm Malibu (2016) is also credible as it is backed up with statistical evidence from research materials. Paradigm Malibu is a teens' center that concentrates on treating addiction and mental conditions. The WHO is a well-known organization that deals with health-related matters. Therefore, there is a guarantee on the credibility of the information from WHO (2018).

The source WebMD (2018) raises concerns over its credibility since it fails to back up the statements on the website with facts from professionals or previous studies. Reach Out Australia (2018) is another source that is incredible. For instance, the site defines peer pressure but does not mention the effort of any professionals in the field of psychology or sociology. The information from CBS News (2018) picked for this literature review is also incredible since the author uses statistics from a government survey which is not known. The newspaper does not mention the title of the government study it refers to in the post. The post by Jalim (2012) on the Guardian is also an incredible source of information. The author has not cited any professional or research experts in the post.

An Appropriate Method of Answering the Research Question

The use of a descriptive research design is an appropriate method to rely on when answering the research question; how does peer pressure influence teenage addiction? A descriptive research design is a scientific design that entails observing the behavior patterns of a subject with no external forces influencing the outcome. The advantage of using a descriptive research design is the fact that it gives an image of the item on the study with no alterations. For instance, when collecting answers for this research question, the accuracy of the feedback from the study sample would be high if the respondents are in an environment that is not controlled. Secondly, a descriptive research design will be appropriate for studying the topic on peer pressure and teenage addiction because it allows a researcher to conduct a study even when it is not possible to have a large sample.


The teenagers are part of the young population that represents the future for the society. Harmful addiction puts the future of teens at risk of unproductivity. Therefore, it is vital that the issue gets a solution. One of the causes of teenage addiction is peer pressure as illustrated by the literature review. Descriptive research that seeks to answer the research question will shade light on the relationship between peer pressure and teenage addiction, thus making it possible to find ways of reducing substance dependence among teens.


Alvarez, M. (2015, October 24). Teen drug abuse becoming an epidemic, must be addressed. Fox News. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/health/teen-drug-abuse-becoming-an-epidemic-must-be-addressed

Bellum, S. (2012, May 8). Why does peer pressure influence teens to try drugs? Retrieved from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/why-does-peer-pressure-influence-teens-try-drugs

Brechwald, W. A., & Prinstein, M. J. (2011). Beyond homophily: A decade of advances in understanding peer influence processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 166-179.

CBS News (2018). Teen drug abuse: 14 mistakes parents make. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/teen-drug-abuse-14-mistakes-parents-make/

Cooper, C. R., & Cooper Jr, R. G. (2016). Links between adolescents’ relationships with their parents and peers: Models, evidence, and mechanisms. Family-Peer Relationships, 149-172.

Huang, G. C., Unger, J. B., Soto, D., Fujimoto, K., Pentz, M. A., Jordan-Marsh, M., & Valente, T. W. (2014). Peer influences: The impact of online and offline friendship networks on adolescent smoking and alcohol use. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54(5), 508-514.

Jalim, R. (2012, April 2). Peer pressure and the image. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.tt/article-6.2.419469.533da18022

Karakos, H. (2014). Positive peer support or negative peer influence? The role of peers among adolescents in recovery high schools. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019403/

Meley, P. M. (2018). Adolescent legend trips as teenage cultural response: A study of lore in context. Children's Folklore Review, 5-24.

Oliver, D. (2018, January 3). Health buzz: More of today's college students striving for perfection, study says. U.S. News. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/health-buzz/articles/2018-01-03/more-of-todays-college-students-striving-for-perfection-study-says

Paradigm Malibu (2016). 5 types of behavioral addictions common among teens. Retrieved from https://paradigmmalibu.com/5-types-of-behavioral-addictions-common-among-teens/

Reach Out Australia (2018). What is peer pressure? Retrieved from https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-peer-pressure

Richtel, M. (2017, March 13). Are teenagers replacing drugs with smartphones? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/health/teenagers-drugs-smartphones.html

Scholastic (2008). Peer pressure: Its influence on teens and decision making. Retrieved from http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/peer-pressure-its-influence-on-teens-and-decision-making

Sussman, S., Lisha, N., & Griffiths, M. (2011). Prevalence of the addictions: A problem of the majority or the minority? Evaluation & the Health Professions, 34(1), 3-56.

WebMD (2018). What Is Substance Abuse? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/substance-abuse#1

WHO (2018). Adolescent health. http://www.who.int/topics/adolescent_health/en/

October 07, 2021


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