June is Men’s Health Month – a time to raise awareness about health care for men and focus on encouraging boys, men and their families to practice and implement healthy living decisions. One of the healthiest decisions a man can make is becoming clean and sober.
Men and women differ in why they started using drugs or alcohol in the first place. For many young men, male institutions and social rites of passage, such as sports and fraternities, encourage the use of alcohol. Men generally start binge drinking at an earlier age than women do and binge drinking is also more prevalent in men. As a result, men are five times more likely than women to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, when they begin using alcohol and drugs, men do so at higher doses than women, and they enter treatment later than women.
When it comes to addiction treatment, men have their own specific needs which often focus on male cultural roles and stereotypes. Men are often reluctant to enter treatment out of fear of being judged or viewed as weak. Men also typically require more time than women to open up and voice their struggles or emotions. Therefore, certain therapy methods tend to be more helpful to men than others. Male-specific programs or groups can help men feel more comfortable and accepted. Men also respond better to treatment methods that address specific thought patterns and behaviors rather than introspection. Gender-specific treatment for men caters specifically to the physiological, psychological, and emotional needs of men and it is an evidence-based practice.
Despite being less likely than women to speak on the topic, many men have significant histories of childhood physical and sexual abuse or current victimization by domestic partners. They are more likely to die from suicide, despite being less likely to attempt it. Men often feel excessive amounts of shame when dealing with emotional and substance use problems, making it less likely that they will seek out medical or behavioral health counseling for their problems. As noted, in treatment men often struggle with talking about their emotions and how to deal with them appropriately. For this reason, men-specific treatment programs or groups provide an understanding environment for men to build friendships and develop a support network for a lasting recovery.
If a man or boy you know wants help, call us at (562) 906-2676.
And check out a book we like: Helping Men Recover by Stephanie Covington.