Innocent Behaviors That Lead to Death

When you are out at a party enjoying a glass of wine, strategizing your next diet, or swallowing the seemingly innocent painkiller that your doctor prescribed, death may be the last thing on your mind. However, for some people, these innocent behaviors can unsuspectingly turn a corner toward harmful behavior, later leading to their death.

Here, a look at innocent behaviors that can end up costing you your life.

Social Drinking

Social drinking starts out fun, lively and innocent. But for those at risk for alcoholism, it can quickly turn the corner. You may have times when you ended up drinking more or longer than you intended, or you may find that you have to drink much more to get the effect you want. You may even start to cut back on activities that were once important to you, in order to drink. These are all signs of alcoholism.

In the United States, approximately 18 million people have an alcohol-use disorder. Alcoholism is not only associated with mood disorders such as depression and severe anxiety, but also affects the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and immune systems and can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and many cancers. Additionally, alcoholism has been linked to abuse of other drugs and suicide.

According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol is a factor in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; and 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.

While social drinking may look like an innocent behavior, for some people it can later lead to death.


Body image plays an important role in a teenager's life. Young girls are exposed to unrealistic images of skinny models that can weigh heavy on a girl's self image as she transitions from girl to young woman in her adolescent years. In order to meet what she sees as our culture's standards, she may experiment with some innocent dieting. 

Sometimes the dieting can turn obsessive for a young woman as she starts to see her hips broaden and her breasts develop. Dieting can be a way for her to hold on to the girl she was. Furthermore, she may feel out of control in her life, and dieting helps her feel more in control. The problem here is that when you are a teen, dieting can be dangerous if you do not get the right kinds and amounts of nutrients.

What started as innocent dieting can turn into an eating disorder such as anorexia (eating too little to maintain a healthy weight) or bulimia (eating only to throw up the calories). Both of these are extremely harmful to a person's health.

According to the latest statistics, anorexia is the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-24, and the numbers of young women affected are growing. Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die, according to Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.

Prescription Painkiller Use

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 5 million individuals in the US are misusing prescription painkillers.

What starts out as innocent behavior taking prescription painkillers for an injury or chronic pain, can turn into addictive behavior for some people.

"Prescription on the same neuro-receptors in the brain as heroin. They are highly addictive substances," says Dr. Dennis Lin, psychiatrist and attending physician on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.

Early misuse tends to come from medications prescribed for a real injury (or other pain) but are then taken longer and in larger amounts than medically indicated, or saved for what turns out to be later use.

Doctors agree that some people are more at risk for painkiller addiction than others--primarily those with any type of family history of addiction.

When a person becomes addicted, their behavior noticeably changes. For example, the person may become unreliable, their personal grooming may deteriorate, or their finances become troublesome. Or they may be happy one minute and irritable the next.

The demographic of greatest concern, say some addiction specialists, are young users, teens and 20s, who may start out with the perception that since these drugs are legal and pharmaceutical quality, they are therefore less dangerous than other hard drugs.

According to the Office of National Drug Policy, emergency room visits resulting from the abuse of painkillers has gone up 163 percent since 1995. Painkiller addiction is serious and can lead to death.

Note: The important thing with all of these behaviors and conditions is to get help early on. If you suspect you or someone you know is at risk, reach out for help and contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will be able to assist you directly or put you in touch with the right people who can.




Beck, M. To Your Health: New Website Helps Predict Alcohol Problem. Wall Street Journal. March 10, 2009. Accessed January 4, 2010.

Mayo Clinic Staff. Anorexia Nervosa, Information Page. Accessed January 4, 2010.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed January 4, 2010.

Rethinking Drinking. National Institutes of Health. Accessed January 4, 2010.