Even though mental health and addiction affect both genders, it is often overlooked when it comes to men. There is a men’s mental health stigma indicating that it’s a sign of weakness if a man is faced with an obstacle of some kind. Due to the stigma, some men find it challenging to speak up about their mental health issues or even be more resistant to seeking help.

The month of June is Men’s Health Month, which places an emphasis on raising awareness for encouragement for young men and adults. By practicing and implementing healthy living choices, such as eating healthy and exercising, great results can arise. Men should not feel reluctant to speak up about mental health or addiction concerns due to stigma.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely than women to use almost all illicit drugs. Illicit drug use is more likely to evolve in emergency department visits or even overdose deaths for men over women. For the majority of age groups, men have higher rates of dependence on alcohol, illicit drugs, and use.

Furthermore, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, men also engage in drug and alcohol use more frequently than women as compared to 7.3% of women. There is an 11.5% of men over the age of 12 were being considered current illicit drug abusers at the time. Additionally, 57.1% of men engaged in alcohol use or alcohol dependency compared to 47.5% of women.

How Does Addiction Affect Men?

Addiction affects men in numerous different ways than it does women, depending on the drug. The substances that are more commonly abused by men are heroin, marijuana, and alcohol.

Marijuana

Similar to various other addictive drugs, there are fewer females than males that engage in marijuana use. It was indicated that marijuana can impair spatial memory in women more than it does in men. However, men show a greater marijuana-induced high than women.

Furthermore, there was a particular study about teenagers that showcased male high school students who engaged in marijuana use reporting school problems and poor family relationships more than female high school students.

However, studies suggested that teenage girls who engaged in marijuana have a higher risk of brain structural abnormalities associated with regular marijuana exposure than boys. When it comes to marijuana use disorder, the similarities between men are women are:

  • Low rate of seeking marijuana treatment
  • At least one other mental health disorder

The differences between men and women when it comes to marijuana use are:

Men 

Women

Stimulants (Methamphetamine and Cocaine)

There is research indicating that women might be more vulnerable to the reinforcing and rewarding effects of stimulants. The estrogen in women is most likely one of the factors for the increased sensitivity. Women are also more sensitive than men to cocaine’s effects on the blood vessels and heart.

However, in contrast, both men and women who engage in cocaine use show the following similar effects:

  • Academic achievement
  • Deficits in learning
  • Concentration

Also, female users are less likely than males to display blood flow abnormalities in the brain’s frontal regions. For the most part, women depend on methamphetamine more than men.

MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)

Research suggested that MDMA produces stronger hallucinatory effects in women than in men. Even though men showed higher MDMA-induced blood pressure increases. There is some evidence in occasional users that women experienced more depression than men a few days after use, but both parties undergo similar increases in aggression after stopping MDMA.

Heroin

Research indicated that women are more likely to use smaller amounts of heroin for less time. Men are more likely than women to inject heroin. The study suggested that women are more likely to experience a heroin overdose than men due to mixing the drug with other prescription drugs, which is dangerous.

In the long term, women are more likely than men to survive heroin use long term. This is most likely due to environmental factors and treatment that impacted heroin use.

Alcohol

Generally, men experience higher rates of alcohol use, including binge drinking. However, young adults are the exception. Girls around 12-20 experience slightly higher rates of binge drinking and alcohol misuse than their male counterparts.

Ironically, long-term drinking is more likely to damage a women’s health than men’s. Even if the woman has been drinking less alcohol for a shorter period. The death rates from alcohol range between 50-100% greater for women and are associated with:

  • Alcohol-related accidents
  • Suicide deaths
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke

Women become intoxicated quicker than men from small quantities of alcohol. men in recovery

Addiction Affect on Men

The way that addiction affects men depends on a variety of factors.

  • Age of Exposure: Due to a man’s natural tendency to engage in risk-taking behaviors and the likelihood of drug and alcohol exposure at a young age, men tend to engage in substance use more than women.
  • Rate of Escalation: Once a man begins engaging in substance use, it will be a long process for him to get addicted than a woman.
  • Maintenance: Men require a lower dose of the drug they are abusing to stabilize their addictive behavior.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Specifically, men are more likely to experience greater withdrawal symptoms from alcohol dependency.
  • Likelihood of Relapse: Men are more likely to experience lengthier periods of abstinence.

Men’s Mental Health Stigma

Once a male is born, they are typically taught how to be strong leaders, and that emotions are a sign of weakness, not masculinity. It is the notion that “Real men do not ask for help”, and as a result, there are several males that attach to this toxic way of thinking and stereotypical norm. Once this is accepted as truth, men who believe this are less willing to seek treatment.

Believing that talking about something will help it disappear is also not true. Nevertheless, men’s issues in recovery aren’t given the attention it deserves. There is a lack of funding and attention that can sustain the mistaken belief that “nobody” cares about men’s mental health.

Generally speaking, men also don’t want to feel like a burden to their loved ones. Oftentimes, they feel if they can fix it by themselves, then they will. However, when men do not discuss addiction or mental health matters with loved ones, the following can occur:

  • Exacerbated relationship difficulties
  • Worsened feelings of depression
  • Social isolation

The stigmas are dangerous for men because they will be less likely to seek help and more likely to turn to unhealthy behaviors such as substance use. Furthermore, men are more likely to engage in successful suicide attempts. The suicide rate for men is four times higher than for women.

Reasons Men Are Vulnerable to Addiction – Why Are Men More Prone to Substance Use?

There are several reasons men are more vulnerable to addiction than women. Though there isn’t a single factor that causes an individual to get addicted to a drug or substance. Experts suggest a complex interaction between environmental triggers and genetic risk factors.

Men Tend to Have Tolerant Attitudes Toward Substance Use

Generally, men tend to view substance use less negatively than women do. They will often associate illicit drugs as a sign of manly behavior or a rite of passage and drinking to excess. In comparison, women tend to view substance use as an incompatible behavior with family responsibilities and feminine caregiving.

Women might also view substance use as a behavior that can put them at risk of sexual assault. Or even cause them to be viewed negatively by those around them.

Toxic Masculinity Makes Men More Vulnerable to Peer Pressure

The definition of toxic masculinity involves the cultural pressures for men to behave in a specific way. This way of thinking likely affects men in a certain way. These socially constructed ideas draft up what it means to be a man and the negative impact on a man’s overall well-being.

Overall, the pressure to be viewed as masculine by the peer group can push some men to consume addictive substances more regularly than they would on their own. As time goes on, peer pressure can lead to addiction in a person who has risk factors or genetic vulnerabilities for developing a substance use disorder (SUD).

Men Are More Likely to Objectify Their Emotions

Anger, fear, frustration, and disappointment are all considered natural feelings to experience during the human experience. However, processing them can be a challenge for many individuals. Men are more likely to objectify negative emotions which can lead to spontaneous, persistent, and hostile behavior.

When this way of behaving is normalized, it is linked to higher rates of substance use disorders. Additionally, to increasing substance use risks, objectifying negative emotions is problematic because it can lead to physical disputes, self-harm acts, and reckless driving. In more extreme cases, men might attempt deliberate suicide attempts.

Weaker Social Ties Are Usually Surrounding Men

Having stronger connections with others play an enormous role in the men’s mental health stigma. When men in recovery have close friends that they can speak to after a hard day, it makes a world of difference. Men’s issues in recovery feel more protected against isolation and loneliness because when like-minded individuals see someone in crisis, they offer their help.

When men in recovery are used to surface-level friendships centered around shared activities and interests, it’s more challenging to express daily struggles and feelings about their addiction. For several men, their significant other is the primary source of emotional support. However, many men in recovery are the byproduct of unemployment or the stress of a divorce.

Men Are Often Reluctant to Ask for Help

Addiction is a progressive disease. Men’s issues in recovery dealing with substance use are easy to miss at first. The men who have been conditioned to believe they can solve their problems by themselves may stay in denial about their addiction until a crisis pushes them to seek treatment. There is a reluctance to ask for help in the veteran community, which contributes to the high rate of SUDs.

men in recovery

Treatment Options for Men in Recovery

We provide mental health and addiction treatment in Missouri with a more centered approach around what each person needs for a lasting and successful recovery. Here at Sana Lake, we provide comfortable, safe, and secure detox, recreational spaces, and residential living options.

Our clinical assessment will address the following areas:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Psychiatric issues
  • Family dynamics
  • Legal status

The addiction treatment process for men in recovery will follow the below guideline:

Detox

Our detox center is monitored and medically staffed 24 hours a day. The main objective is to ensure a comfortable and safe withdrawal process. Detox refers to the toxins being removed from the individual’s body.

Residential Treatment

Here at Sana Lake, we believe that drug use and alcohol disorders are important matters. If you or someone you know is struggling to end substance use in your life due to your environment, we provide residential care.

Sana Lake Can Help Men Recover

Even though there is a men’s mental health stigma extremely present in today’s society, we can help transform your way of thinking. Our evidence-based research and recovery-oriented system of care stress the importance of your value despite your chronic addiction condition.

As a result of your value, we offer treatment methods that will be more likely to lead you down the road of long-term recovery. Everyone’s addiction journey is different, and so should their treatment be. It’s important to have assets that can help men’s issues in recovery.

Here at Sana Lake, you’re not a druggie to us. It doesn’t matter what others have said about you. We see and hear you. You deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

References:

https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide