TEENS, UT Teen Health

Risky Behaviors

Many behaviors are risky for your health and happiness.  The main hazards include using tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, engaging in violent behavior, and sexual activity. Sometimes these activities can start a slippery slope and you go further than you mean to go.  That’s where the risk and danger come in.

These behaviors can cause you physical and emotional harm, can ruin your plans and your relationships, and can even land you in jail.  Is anything worth that?

Further, indulging in one risky behavior can lead to others!  Don’t let one bad decision ruin your future.  Do your best to avoid that slippery slope.

Some people claim that drugs and alcohol help them “cope” with hard times.  In reality, these substances and behavior make your life a lot harder.  Make a plan for saying NO and stick to it!  You will be glad you did.  Read on to learn more about these risky behaviors and why you want to avoid them…..

1. TOBACCO (cigarettes, cigars, dip, chew — contains the drug nicotine)

  • Nicotine addiction is said to be as hard to quit as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.
  • Cigarettes are expensive!  Even just one pack a week will cost you $312 per year. Giving up a pack-a-day habit would free up over $2,000!  Imagine all the other fun stuff you could do with $2,000….
  • Cigarette ingredients are gross:
    • Arsenic — used for rat poison
    • Ammonia — toilet bowl cleaner
    • Carbon Monoxide — car exhaust
    • Tar — roofing
    • Nicotine — poison bug sprays

"My friend told me that smoking made you look cool and sexy to guys. I really wanted to impress this hot guy in my English class, so I started smoking with her after school. My plan backfired when my crush saw me smoking and said he thought kissing a girl that smoked was like licking an ashtray."
— Taylor, 15

2. ALCOHOL (beer, wine, wine coolers, mixed drinks)

  • Alcohol drastically reduces your ability to make good decisions. It also impairs your ability to see, walk, and talk.
  • You can DIE from an alcohol overdose.
  • Texas led the nation in DWI (driving while intoxicated) fatalities in 2009 with 1,269 alcohol-related traffic deaths. Fifty-one of those deaths occurred in San Antonio. (San Antonio Express News, 2011)
  • The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour.  Drinking strong coffee, exercising or taking a cold shower will not help.

"The first (and only) time I got drunk, I played strip poker with a bunch of guys and ended up only wearing my underwear. The next day at school, boys were looking at me and whispering. People were calling me a slut. I spent 3rd period crying in the bathroom and wishing that I could take it back. I haven't drunk alcohol since that night and now I hear stories about other girls and am just glad that the stories aren't about me." 
— Rachel, 15

3. SEX (intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, outercourse — all sexual contact)

  • Sex is one of the easiest ways to contract and spread diseases.
  • Many STDs have no symptoms and can be spread to many people without even knowing it.
  • Having sex before you are ready, or with someone you don't love and trust can damage you emotionally as well as physically, and may produce an unwanted baby.

"I started going out with one of the most popular guys in school, and I was so in love with him. He always told me how beautiful I was and how much he loved me and wanted to share everything with me by having sex. I finally gave in and had sex with him. The next week he began avoiding me and wouldn't return my calls. By the end of the week he broke up with me. What is even worse is that I found out he had slept with other girls and I got herpes from having sex with him just one time. Even though he has moved on, I am going to be stuck with this disease for the rest of my life." 
— Jessica, 16

4. DRUGS (marijuana, ecstasy, acid, cocaine, rohypnol, GHB, etc.)

  • When someone is on drugs, they are more likely to do things that they would never do otherwise.
  • To learn more about the different kinds of drugs and what they can do to you, click here.

"My friend got some acid from his older brother and I decided to try it. I have a phobia of snakes and the acid made me hallucinate that there were snakes in all of the trees and on the ground. I took a stick and tried to beat the snakes away from my legs. My friend tried to tell me that it wasn't real, but I couldn't tell. I ran around screaming and crying. I have never been so afraid in my life. I had to wait it out; there was nothing I could do to get rid of the acid. It was the longest night of my life. I ended up with bruises all over my legs and the people from the party still laugh at me all the time." 
— Jason, 18

5. VIOLENCE (bullying, gangs, fights, dating violence)

  • It is never OK for someone to physically hurt you or abuse you in any way.  Love shouldn’t hurt.
  • 1 in 11 teens in America is in a violent dating relationship. (MMWR, May 19, 2006/55(19); pgs. 532-535; Physical Dating Violence)
  • Nationwide 9.9% of students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend/girlfriend in the last 12 months prior to being surveyed. (CDC: WRBS, 2007.MMWR, June 6, 2008/57(S-S04) pgs. 1-131.)

"I've never really gotten along with girls and have always had a lot of guy friends. After I started dating my boyfriend, my best friend got really jealous and couldn't understand why I was spending so much time with my boyfriend. We all ended up at a party one night and my best friend drank a lot of beer. He started yelling at my boyfriend and me about how we didn't belong together and that he was in love with me. After his outburst, he started a fight with my boyfriend and hit him in the face. It was so scary to see how violent he got when he was drunk." 
— Olivia, 16