This lesson will discuss the short and long-term consequences of several different risk behaviors. We'll also go into some simple but effective strategies you can use to help avoid or stop these behaviors.
Skydiving, riding motorcycles, smoking, drug use, and unprotected sex all have something in common. Try and guess what it is. They are all risky endeavors, meaning they are things that may put you into a really bad spot right away or in the future. That is why understanding how some of these behaviors can impact your health is important. Equally so, it's essential to know that these behaviors can be changed.
Types of Risk Behavior
Let's first focus on examining some risk behaviors and identifying how they can impact your health right away or in the future. It's important to do this because if you do not consider the consequences of this destructive behavior, then you cannot take the first step in trying to change it.
The consumption of alcohol is one type of risk behavior. You're almost certainly well aware of the numerous ways alcohol use can impact your health right away. If you drive drunk you can really hurt yourself and others. Inebriation, or drunkenness, can also lead to plenty of other bad decision making that can result in things such as unforeseen pregnancies and injuries.
In the long run, alcohol can damage a vital organ in your body known as the liver. Alcohol is like a toxic chemical to your liver. If you've ever had the misfortune of spilling some acid on your skin, it almost certainly burned you and maybe even left a scar. Well, alcohol leads to scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis, which eventually can result in a person's death.
Using illicit drugs is another risk behavior very similar to alcohol. In the beginning, using drugs may lead to poor judgment that results in injury, violence, or even death. But in the long run, you can expose yourself to serious organ damage and mental health issues as a result of prolonged drug abuse.
The use of illicit drugs actually has something in common with another risk behavior: body art. This includes tattoos and piercings. Many people don't consider body art as risky. Nevertheless, just like needles used during drug abuse pierce your skin, so too do sharp objects when getting body art. If performed improperly, short-term problems associated with body art include minor infection by bacteria that are cleared away relatively quickly. However, in the long run, infections by viruses, such as HIV or the hepatitis virus, can lead to everything from cancer to death.
Furthermore, HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) also comes into play in another very well-known risk behavior: unprotected sex. Unprotected sex may immediately result in something like an unwanted pregnancy, but it can also predispose you to getting STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. HIV can lead to the destruction of your immune system to the point where even a simple cold virus can kill you. Of course, risk behavior doesn't end there. Everything from smoking to cyber bullying to abuse puts a person in immediate and long-term risk of health-related problems.
Strategies for Behavioral Change
That is why it's so important to realize that you are in control of what you do in your life. Self-belief is an important step in realizing that behavior can change for the better. There are many strategies for this, many of which are best advised by a counselor, but we will cover some of them here, and another lesson addresses steps you can take yourself by creating a behavioral management plan.
The first thing you need to do is literally write down the pros and cons of a situation. As another example, let's say you lead an inactive lifestyle. The pros may be that you don't exert yourself, you watch lots of entertaining TV, and you play video games. The cons should be listed as well: weak muscles, weak bones, increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and death. If you list these things out honestly like that, you can see that the scale is heavily tipped towards the con side. Who knew that being lazy and inactive is such a big risk behavior?
So, now that you know that the benefits of changing your behavior are potentially immense, even in this simple example, other strategies can be used for behavioral change. Think about how you'd like others to see you or who you believe you truly are.
If you think that you are an independent person who is in control of themselves, then this can be used as a way to combat the addictive nature of smoking, which is incompatible with the idea of independence and self-control for so many reasons. If, however, you do not view yourself in a confident light, then self-talk can be employed. Self-talk refers to the internal voice and conversations people engage in. You can use that inner voice to pump yourself up just like athletes do before a game with positive thoughts about who you are and what you are capable of.
Another great way to get yourself to change your behavior is through the process of visualization. Just like self-talk refers to your inner voice and the inner conversations you have with yourself, visualization refers to the inner images you can create within your mind. In fact, no single idea in human history that has changed anything has come about without being created twice; first it was created in the mind of the person and only then was it physically created. Therefore, use this to your advantage.
Visualize who you are or what you want to do over and over again, imagine it in detail, and then let it become reality. You can visualize yourself not smoking or exercising and losing weight or stopping a pattern of drug abuse and reconnecting happily with family. All ideas are first visualized in a person's mind and only then in real life; use this to your advantage.
Last, for this lesson at least, make sure to involve others in your desire to change your behavior. Community efforts, the use of a role model, or even the help of one friend can keep you focused, motivated, and on track to becoming a better person who is less prone to risk behaviors.
Hopefully this lesson gave you some good starting ideas about the different ways you can change your behavior, and the different ways risk behavior can change you for the worse if you don't do something about it. We discussed all sorts of behaviors that can hurt you, including the consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol use can lead to inebriation, or drunkenness, which can cause everything from car accidents to cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, in the long run. Drug use, smoking, and unprotected sex are other types of risk behaviors. One consequence of the latter is the possibility that you'll contract a dangerous STD, or sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV.
Thankfully, you can employ many strategies for behavioral change that may even end up saving your life! These strategies include visualizing who you want to become, using a positive role model as an example of someone you want to be, or engaging in self-talk. Self-talk refers to the internal voice and conversations people engage in.
After this lesson, you'll be able to:
- Describe several types of risk behaviors and their consequences
- Explain ways to create behavioral change