Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) affect all genders. Although, there are some key ways in which SUDs manifest differently in men.
For example, men tend to start using substances earlier than women and more frequently. Additionally, men are more likely to suffer from concurrent mental health disorders, which can exacerbate the effects of substance abuse.
Because of these and other risk factors, it is important to consider prevention and treatment strategies that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of men.
Substance Use Disorder Stats According to Gender
According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), men battle substance abuse or dependency at rates about double those of women, 10.8 percent versus 5.8 percent, respectively. This may be due to various factors, including biology as well as social pressures.
For example, men are more likely than women to use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, and they may be less likely to seek help for their addiction. Therefore, it is essential to consider these factors when developing treatment and recovery plans for men with SUDs.
Men are more likely to use substances in risky ways and develop dependence. In addition, men are more likely to experience negative consequences due to their substance use, such as job loss, financial problems, and relationship difficulties.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archiver (SAMHDA) reports that men are more likely to engage in problematic drinking patterns than women. They are also more than twice as likely to binge drink, which is defined as five or more drinks in two hours. Men are more likely to be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime, with 17 percent of men and 8 percent of women developing a dependency. This population can also experience health problems and may risk death due to alcohol-related causes.
Why Are Men More Prone to Substance Abuse?
Although experts are not exactly sure why men are at higher risk for substance use, several theories try to explain these statistics. Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that males are more likely to be introduced to drugs by other males in their peer group, which may explain the trend toward earlier onset of substance use.
Studies show that the earlier a person tries a substance, the more likely they will develop a SUD. The brain is still developing during adolescence and is more susceptible to changes than the adult brain.
Environmental factors, such as stress and trauma, can also contribute to the development of SUDs. Theories about gender roles may also play a role, as men are typically seen as more invulnerable and less in touch with their emotions as compared to women.
Barriers to Treatment
Research says men are also more likely than women to seek treatment for SUDs. This may be because men are more likely to have health insurance and to be able to afford treatment.
Yet, there are some treatment barriers specific to men. For example, men are more likely than women to experience homelessness and criminal activity and are more likely to be referred to treatment through the criminal justice system than through a mental health provider.
This is likely because drug and alcohol abuse may increase the odds of men being involved in a violent crime, property crime, or driving while impaired. While this referral system can ultimately get men the help they need, it often does not address the underlying causes of their substance abuse.
The Stigma of “Weakness”
Additionally, men may be less likely to admit that they need help and deny that treatment is necessary. Finally, men may feel that they should be able to handle things independently and believe that seeking treatment indicates personal weakness or a moral failing.
Male bravado may discourage men from seeking behavioral health services or admitting to family and friends that they need help. Yet, these views of masculinity present unique challenges as they face SUDs and other mental health problems.
The stigma surrounding men’s mental health and the cultural expectation that they should be tough and self-reliant can be significant barriers to men getting the help they need. This difference in help-seeking behavior between men and women is an important factor when designing treatment programs. It can also be helpful for public awareness campaigns to reduce the prevalence of SUDs among men.
Types of Treatment for Men
Men often face unique barriers to seeking treatment for SUDs. For many, the fear of losing their job or being seen as weak is a significant deterrent to seeking help. As a result, men may be more likely to consider outpatient treatment options that can be scheduled around work and family commitments.
Detox services are important for men with SUDs and can be done on an outpatient basis. During detox, medical staff will be present to monitor clients and may prescribe medications to address withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, men can begin other forms of treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual counseling, and group therapy. Medications may be a part of addiction or co-occurring mental illness treatment. While men may be less likely to discuss their feelings openly, they could benefit from gender-specific programs that focus on issues such as anger management and stress relief.
In addition, family support is essential for those in recovery, and men may need to lean on their loved ones for help with tasks that may include childcare and housework. By understanding the unique needs of those in recovery, treatment providers can better meet the needs of men which will improve outcomes.
Substance use disorders affect both men and women, but there are some gender-specific considerations regarding the prevalence of substance abuse and finding treatment. Several barriers prevent men from seeking treatment, including the stigma around addiction and treatment, the fear of losing their job, or the negative perception of treatment in the workplace. Perceived societal expectations, such as the stigma of being seen as weak or unable to handle problems independently, also prevent men from getting the help they need. Outpatient treatment provides men with the opportunity to receive the care they need, while also maintaining their work and familial obligations. This type of treatment is highly individualized, which can enhance the process of recovery. Men can overcome addiction and live healthier, more productive lives with the right treatment plan and recovery support. To learn more, call Vanity Wellness Center at (866) 587-1737.