Addictive substances affect men and women differently. There is a direct link between how drugs affect people and their gender. Because of the biological differences between the sexes, some substances affect one gender more intensely than the other. To be clear, two men can use the same substance and because of the differences in their makeup have different experiences. However, gender and addiction are linked in ways that might surprise you.
Men, Age, and Addiction
There are clear differences in how substance abuse affects different genders for different reasons. No evidence clearly shows that men or women have a greater propensity toward addiction. However, there is evidence that men are more likely to deal with substance abuse from age 18 onwards, while women are more likely to deal with substance abuse between the ages of 12 and 17. Women in that 12- to 17-year age group are likely to deal with alcohol abuse, whereas men are more likely to be admitted for marijuana abuse. Interestingly, women over 65 are three times more likely to use prescription drugs than men.
Is There Evidence That Men Are More Prone to Addiction?
Some research suggests that men use drugs earlier because they have more opportunities. For example, teenage males have a higher chance of being exposed to drugs by their peer group than teenage girls. Teenage girls are often introduced to drugs by the boys they associate with. However, studies also show that once males and females are introduced to drugs, they have the same likelihood of continuing to use drugs.
Family history is also a contributing factor as it has been seen that substance abuse by men stays constant from one generation to the next within the same family. There is likely a genetic predisposition that comes into play as well. Men’s career choices play a major role in the development of addiction. Many men are attracted to law enforcement, the military, and the financial industry. There is a link between drinking alcohol and working in these industries.
How Do Men View Seeking Treatment for Addiction?
Men have a greater chance of thinking that they don’t need treatment. Women may realize they need treatment but are embarrassed to seek it. Many cultures may have been socialized to believe that they need to be able to handle things on their own, be fearless, and avoid things that indicate signs of weakness. Men seeking help through treatment could feel like they are signaling weakness to others. Some primary barriers that prevent men from getting treatment include worrying about losing their income or fear they may lose their job.
Other issues such as societal barriers, a desire to conform to traditional masculine roles, and fear of being stereotyped because of race or culture prevent men from getting treatment.
What Causes Substance Use in Men?
A major cause is the expectation of masculinity in men. Most men are indoctrinated with the idea that a real man is not afraid to take risks. Men are not afraid to prove their masculinity by doing dangerous things like using illicit substances. There is a common feeling among men in that getting treatment for anxiety, mental illness, or depression is cowardly. So they self-medicate by turning to drugs and alcohol. Stress and anxieties related to life are other contributing factors to substance use among men. Men may feel a lot of pressure to succeed at work.
They may not have the support of family or close friends. These factors can combine and lead to substance abuse. For many men, substance use starts with the legitimate use of pharmaceuticals to combat an injury, after surgery, or after trauma. Legitimate use transforms into improper use as men ignore dosage instructions, fail to report medication side effects, or start to lie or use dishonest means to get access to stronger painkillers.
Helping Men Get the Help Needed
Substance use can lead to several negative consequences that affect the lives of men and their families. Do you or another man in your life need help to break free from the grips of substance use? If so, we can help. Call us today at 833-610-1174.