Addiction Among Males
Addiction is an individual disease that manifests differently for each person. and may play a role in how addiction, treatment, and recovery are handled.1
If you are a man struggling with addiction (or you have a loved one who you think might have a problem), you should know that seeking help is a sign of strength that can help you start the path to recovery.
Men and Addiction
There are multiple reasons that influence men and addiction, but studies have shown that biological, psychological, and social differences are important contributing factors.1,2
Are men more prone to addiction? Men are more likely to use illicit drugs and in most age groups, men have a higher likelihood of developing a dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol compared to woman. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder.3
Substance use can pose a variety of problems for men, such as:
- Increased risk of overdose.3
- Increased visits to the ER for substance-related problems.3
- Increased risk of substance-related death.2
- Increased rate of binge drinking, which can increase the chances of developing alcohol-related problems.2
Depending on the substance they use, men can also suffer from an increased risk of medical conditions that occur with addiction, including:
- Liver disorders.1
- Kidney disorders.5
- Cardiovascular problems.1
- Gastrointestinal disorders.1
- Lung disease.6
- Sleep problems.7
- Increased risk of cancer.6
- Sexual dysfunction.2
- Risk of infectious disease like hepatitis B and C or HIV.6
- Increased risk of mental health disorders.6
Unfortunately, men often encounter difficulties and obstacles in seeking or receiving addiction treatment and as a result, may continue to use substances.2
Substance Use Rates Among Men
The Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provide rates on men and substance use as follows:
- Alcohol. Around 82 million males aged 21 and older reported using alcohol in the past year.9
- Marijuana. Around 26 million males aged 12 and older reported using marijuana in the past year.9
- Opioids. Around 4.3 million males aged 12 and older reported misusing opioids in the past year.9
- Prescription medications. More than 33 million males aged 12 and older reported using prescription pain relievers in the past year.9 More than 8 million males reported using prescription stimulants in the past year.9 Around 10 million reported using prescription benzodiazepines in the past year.9
- Cocaine. Around 3.3 million men aged 12 and older reported cocaine use in the past year.9
- Methamphetamine. Around 1.2 million men aged 12 and older reported methamphetamine use in the past year.9
Are Men More Prone to Addiction?
Rates of addiction among different groups vary, and this can occur for a number of reasons. Why boys are most likely to use drugs or why men are most likely to use drugs can vary by individual factors, and there isn’t just one easy answer to these questions.
However, contributing factors for higher rates of substance misuse in men can include:
- Early peer influence, such as associating with peers who use drugs or alcohol.10
- Family history of substance use disorders. Repeated substance misuse by men appears to be consistent across generations within the same family; additionally, genetic predisposition is thought to account for around half of a person’s risk of addiction.2,11
- Having a co-occurring mental health disorder. A co-occurring disorder can increase the chances of substance misuse and addiction.2,12
- Choice of career. A man’s career choice can play a strong and complex role in the development of addiction.2Addiction in the financial industry and addiction among law enforcement are examples of male-dominated industries of which studies show a relationship between drinking and working in these industries.2
Men’s Challenges in Addiction Recovery
Men may be more likely to think they don’t need treatment than women and may feel more embarrassed about seeking treatment.2 Additionally, they may feel that they can handle things on their own and are socialized to believe that they should be fearless. Some men might feel that seeking treatment could indicate weakness.2
Potential barriers to treatment and men’s issues in addiction recovery can include:
- Being perceived as weak or otherwise “losing face.”2
- Worrying about losing income.13
- Not having sick leave.2
- Fearing they’ll lose employment if they seek treatment.2
- Cultural/societal barriers, such as their level of conformity to traditional masculine roles, or factors related to race, ethnicity, and similar issues, such as racism and acculturation.2
- Thinking they can handle the problem without treatment.2,13
How to Help Your Loved One
If you are struggling with addiction or love someone who is, there is effective help available. You can talk to your loved one about getting help; often showing your concern and support may help them see the benefits of treatment. When having the discussion, you may wish to consider the following tips:
- Set aside a quiet, private time that’s free of distractions.14
- Plan out what you want to say in advance, and write down a list of concerns.
- Emphasize that addiction is not a moral failing and getting help is not a sign of weakness.
- Offer support and encouragement. Ask your loved one what they need and listen to their concerns.
- Avoid using stigmatizing language and shaming or blaming. Don’t use terms like “addict” or “alcoholic.”15
- Offer to research types of addiction treatment, read reviews, and tour facilities.
- Encourage them to have an evaluation with their doctor.
Treatment Options for Men with Addiction
Seeking treatment can help you or your loved one start the path to recovery. There are different rehabs and treatment options that can help men with addiction. Inpatient addiction treatment in New Jersey provides gender-specific options that allow men to focus on their recovery.