Awkward situation? Here are some exit plans

Exit Strategy Text With A Person Holding A Pen

Peer pressure can be powerful.

Whether it is wearing the coolest clothes or listening to the latest music, it is natural to want to fit in.

But, sometimes, that peer pressure can be deadly – like when it comes to opioids.

If you are with a group of people who offer you drugs, you might feel pressured to try them even if you do not want to. After all, just one try can lead to serious health concerns or even death. That is why it is important to think of an exit strategy before you are in that difficult situation.

How can you escape the conversation easily? There are a number of ways to say no to drugs in a social situation, depending on which is most comfortable for you. Whether that is responding with a solid and firm “no,” or removing yourself from the conversation, find a plan you can put into play before you’re ever even asked to try something you do not want to do.

Here are some exit strategies you can use to get out of an uncomfortable situation:

  1. Just say no. The most simple and straightforward response to being offered opioids is to just say no. This establishes your boundaries and your clear choice. A stern, repetitive response leaves no room for ambivalence. But, if you are not comfortable doing so, try one of these other methods.
  2. Excuse yourself to the restroom. Physically removing yourself from the situation can give you a chance to think clearly and make a plan. Whether you just need a way out of that conversation or a way out of the gathering, taking a few minutes to yourself can put things in perspective.
  3. Have a safe word. Make a plan with your parents or close friends ahead of time to designate a safe word. Whenever you use this word, your friends and family will be alerted that you need a ride home from wherever you are – no questions asked. This can help you exit whatever space you are in without calling attention to the situation.
  4. Blame drug testing. Whether it is ordered by a coach at school or your parents at home, drug testing can be an excuse to opt out of any drugs that are being offered. This can help shift the conversation from you not wanting to do drugs to you being unable to do drugs.
  5. Suggest an alternative. Redirect the conversation away from the drug at hand and offer up a different activity, like a board game, movie or going out to eat. A lighthearted conversation can sometimes take the pressure away from the situation, and humor can be a great de-escalation tool if the time is appropriate.
  6. Offer to be the designated driver. It is your responsibility to keep those you drive safe from harm, and you cannot do that under the influence of drugs. In this scenario, you are making the best choice not only for you, but also for the people you care about.
  7. Ignore the suggestion. Do not acknowledge the offer and instead go about whatever you were doing previously. It is not something you care to spend your time on, so it is not worth your attention.
  8. Avoid uncomfortable situations. If you will be attending a party or social situation where you know drugs may be offered, it may be best to avoid the gathering all together. That will remove any peer pressure or uncomfortable situations at the start so that you do not have to face them at all. This, of course, is not always preventable, but it can nip any potential concerns before they arise.

Remember that you do not need to explain yourself or your decision to not do drugs. When faced with the situation, though, it can understandably be uncomfortable. Try using the above examples as exit strategies – or come up with your own that works for you.

You are in control of your body and your decisions. Make sure to think through your options and do what is best for you. Your future, your health and your decisions are up to you.

For more information or recovery resources, visit

Show/Hide Accessibility Toolbar