Men’s Health Month-Substance Abuse Differences in Men and Women

June is Men’s Health Month! Every year, Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the United States anchored by a Congressional Health Education Program. The White House recognizes June as a month to encourage men and their families around the world to be vigilant when it comes to managing their health. The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to raise awareness of preventable health issues and encourage early detection and treatment. In recognition of Men’s Health Month, we will be examining the substance abuse and addiction differences in men and women.

Addiction and substance use disorders are individual by nature, which means every individual’s situation will be different. However, men and women are different- physically, emotionally, and mentally. As a result, there are some differences in the way men are prone to addiction, impacted by addiction, and treated for addiction.

Addiction Risk Factors for Men

Research shows that men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs, with more men struggling with addiction per capita. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, men are twice as likely as women to meet the criteria for drug addiction.

According to the Psych Central, men are more likely to abuse substances to enhance positive moods, satisfy pleasure-seeking, or cope with problems in social situations or behavior.

There are different predisposing factors of addiction for men and women. Men are less likely than women to partake in drug use as a social activity. Instead, they tend to be drawn to using substances for their specific effects. Some men struggle with expressing emotions or opening up with mental health issues. Because they may associate mental illness as a sign of weakness, they turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medicating. While women are more likely to abuse substances to treat anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, men are more often affected by antisocial personality disorders. The unhealthy coping mechanisms used to treat the undiagnosed mental health problems and emotional pain only exacerbate the issues.

How Addiction Affects Men

Biology plays a significant role in the development of addiction. Because of the general body composition or men and their metabolism, it tends to require more of a drug or alcoholic substance to lead to intoxication. As a result, it generally takes men longer to develop an addiction to substances than women. Although, addiction tends to become more severe in males. Due to the prevalence and severity of addiction among men, it is more likely that men will experience an overdose.

When it comes down to quitting, men typically exhibit greater symptoms of withdrawal than women do. This makes it more difficult to get through the early stages of withdrawal and abstinence. However, when they do get through the initial period, men are less likely to experience relapse and more likely to stay sober for a longer amount of time. However, there are outside factors that contribute to the likelihood of relapse on an individual basis regardless of gender.

Addiction Treatment for Men

The decision to undergo rehabilitation for addiction can be challenging for both men and women. Studies show that men are more likely to choose not to receive treatment due to family or career responsibilities. Men also may be less willing to get help because they are less likely to admit to their emotional weakness. However, research shows that men are more willing to seek treatment when it is mandated by the court, an employer, or a family member. Men are more likely to be referred to addiction treatment through the criminal justice system than women who are more likely to be referred to through a mental health service provider. This is because drug and/or alcohol abuse increases the chances of men being involved in property damage, violent crimes, or driving under the influence.

Men may be more likely to think they don’t need treatment than women due to societal expectations and the fear of public perception. However, there are some treatment programs that are gender-specific. An effective addiction treatment program takes an individualized approach to each person. Group and individual therapy is an essential part of both inpatient and outpatient programs. In group therapy, men who are less willing to open but about their emotions may find it easier in a support group with similar peers. Behavioral therapy methods for men help them cope more effectively with anger and aggression as well as finding healthy outlets to relieve stress.

When it comes down to it, addiction is a preventable disease in both men and women. Prevention works best at an early age when children can learn about the harmful consequences of addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t sit back and wait. Be proactive in getting the help you or they need. Addiction is a chronic disease both physically and mentally and can be treated. This Men’s Health Month put your health at the highest priority and be aware of the consequences of addiction. Contact us today for more information and reclaiming your life.