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Being assertive: Tips for dealing with situations where you may be pressured to use drugs

Although it varies from person to person, situations where you have to disagree with others or refuse something can sometimes feel awkward and difficult to handle.

It may help to know that by not taking drugs you are in the majority. Most young people in Australia do not use crystal methamphetamine ('ice').

1 IN 100

Source: Australian secondary school students alcohol and drug (ASSAD) survey 2017

Here are a few options to help you deal with situations where you may be inclined or pressured to take ice.

  • Option 1: Stay away
  • Option 2: Provide excuses
  • Option 3: Leave the situation
  • Option 4: Be
  • Option 5: Use the "Broken Record" technique.
  • Option 1: Stay away

    If you don’t think you will be able to resist the offer or pressure to take drugs, then it may be best to stay away from that situation or group of people. Good friends should respect your decision not to use drugs. Try to hang out with people who share similar interests and do not use drugs. It may be a good idea to find new interests and meet some new people.

  • Option 2: Provide excuses

    You can simply make excuses to get out of the uncomfortable situation. For example:

    • “No thanks, I’m leaving soon”
    • “Last time I had it, I didn’t feel too well”
    • “I’m being picked up soon”
    • “I can’t tonight; I’m on medication”
    • “No thanks, I just want to make sure everyone else stays safe”.
  • Option 3: Leave the situation

    If you are offered ice, you can just give your excuses and go. This doesn’t mean you need to leave a party, or the social situation that you are in, but it may be best to walk away from that person. You can leave by saying: “I need to go to the bathroom” or “Is that Jason over there? I’m just going to say hello; I haven’t seen him in ages”.

  • Option 4: Be assertive

    Being involves clearly stating your thoughts, needs and wishes whilst still remaining tolerant and respectful of others. Learning to be assertive takes practice, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t come straight away.

    Assertive communication includes three steps:

    1. Giving your answer
    2. Stating your reason
    3. Showing understanding.

    The following is an example of assertive communication:

    Pat: Just have some, your parents will never know.

    Sophie: No thanks, I don’t want to risk it. They probably won’t find out but if they do I’ll be grounded for life.

    Providing reasons for your decision makes it very difficult for people to continue exerting pressure. There will be the occasional person who will keep trying, but most people will stop. Usually people will see that it’s a waste of their time and will drop the subject pretty quickly.

    Being comfortable with your decision will come across in your body language. You can communicate assertively by:

    • Keeping a clear firm voice, speaking clearly and deliberately
    • Maintaining eye contact
    • Facing the person with your body so that you do not look like you are hiding
    • Having a facial expression that says what you mean.
  • Option 5: Use the "Broken Record" technique

    This just involves continually saying “no” in the politest possible way. You just say it over and over again and never change your tune:

    Pat: Come on, just take some with me.

    Sophie: No thanks, I don’t really want to.

    Pat: Just this time?

    Sophie: No thanks, not even once.

    Pat: But you’re normally so fun!

    Sophie: Not tonight. No thanks.

    Pat: Go on...

    Sophie: Yeah, but no thanks, I don’t feel like it.

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Want more information? Visit Positive Choices for evidence-based information and resources that can help you make informed choices about ice and other drugs, and prepare you to support friends you may be concerned about.

Page last reviewed: Tuesday, 1 August 2023