Friday, November 19th is International Men’s Day, and with us focussing a blog on ‘Women and Addiction’ for International Women’s Day back in March we feel it is only right to centre this blog on Men and Addiction to mark International Men’s Day.
Tabor Group treat both Men and Women for substance use disorders to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. Beating or controlling an addiction is a tough challenge for anyone, and at the assessment stage little emphasis is placed on gender differences. However, the specific challenges individuals face can change and differ depending on a number of factors such as age, personal history and gender. In this blog we are going to look at some challenges and hurdles men face who are in recovery and trying to overcome their addiction. It is important to note that these challenges may not be the case for all men, but rather a high percentage.
Firstly, studies and statistics show that on average, men are more likely to use alcohol or illicit substances than women. This can vary depending on the specific drug in question, but if we take alcohol as an example, men can be between 2 and 3 times more likely than women to develop an alcohol addiction. The use of certain stimulants can be more evenly divided or comparable, but broadly speaking men are more likely to use substances which therefore increases their likelihood of an addiction or relapse.
There are several possible explanations for this. The first being that women see substance use as being more dangerous than it is viewed by their male counterparts. If you view a substance as being dangerous, you are less likely to try it.
Secondly, is the stigma attached to using alcohol and drugs for women more so than men. In fact, for men, drinking alcohol is traditionally viewed as almost a manly activity and something that men will usually do with their friends.
Another explanation for this is that men are less likely to recognise or get help for mental health issues, and then will self-medicate or rely on substances such as alcohol and drugs to cope.
This takes us on to our second challenge for men, their lack of eagerness or reluctancy to seek help for almost anything verses females. This includes mental health issues and addiction or substance misuse. Traditionally, the expectations for men are that they need to be strong, stoic and be able to take care of themselves. Many men view asking for help as a sign of weakness and not something they are willing to do easily. It can sometimes not be until they are in legal, personal or financial turmoil that they accept the help. If an individual is unwilling to get help, or admit they have a problem, it’s impossible for the recovery to begin.
Once a man does accept that they need help and seeks the treatment they require, they can often be hesitant to engage fully in treatment, particularly in group therapy sessions. Males can find it difficult to open up and share their emotions as it requires a level of vulnerability that a lot of men can find uncomfortable. They may feel they have a reputation to uphold, an unwilling to share in front of others in a group therapy scenario.
Having a strong sober network and group of friends / family to support you can be a pivotal part of recovery. This sober network might be your loved ones or someone you met while in treatment, but the more engagement you have together the lower the risk of relapsing is for an individual. However, when compared to women, men can find it more difficult to make new friends resulting in many men not having this strong sober network to rely on and prevent them from relapsing. In addition to this, a lot of males in recovery also resort to spending time with old friends who may be using substances and can be a trigger for relapse.
Ordinarily, when we think of an individual relapsing, we think of stressful incidents or negative events triggering the relapse. Although this is certainly the case with both men and women, positive emotions with men can also be a significant challenge and sometimes even a greater challenge than negative emotions, triggering a relapse. One explanation for this is that men tend to leave their guard down when on a high or feeling good and believe they can use their drug of choice in moderation just to celebrate.
International Men’s Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to appreciate and celebrate the men in their lives and the contribution they make to society for the greater good of all. If you or anyone in your life is struggling with an addiction, please contact Tabor Group today.
Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you.