Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
Treating Substance Abuse in Men
Substance abuse can affect men and women differently, although both genders tend to develop substance use disorders at about the same rate.
Even though both genders are equally prone to addiction, men are more likely to misuse nearly all legal and illicit substances.
Because the way that men and women use and experience substances can be so different, both men and women can benefit significantly from gender-specific drug addiction treatment.
Treatment options often found at gender-specific rehab centers for men include detox, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), group therapy, family therapy, and anger management therapy.
How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Affects Men
Even though men and women tend to develop substance use disorders at approximately the same rate, how each gender reaches this point can vary significantly.
For instance, men start using substances at a younger age than women because of a natural tendency toward risk-taking behavior.
Men are also more prone to misuse and abuse the substances they use, although it takes longer for men to develop an actual dependency and addiction.
Men may also have an easier time stopping their addictive behavior. Although men experience more significant withdrawal symptoms than women, they also experience more extended periods of abstinence and a lower risk of relapse.
Due to how men experience drugs and alcohol, therapy and treatment specifically tailored to their needs can prove beneficial in helping men achieve long and lasting recovery.
Scope of Substance Abuse in Men
Substance abuse among men is a critical public health issue, affecting millions of adults and adolescents worldwide.
Statistics related to substance abuse and men include:
- 22% of males, compared to 17% of females, reported using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs in the past year.
- Drug abuse is highest in young men between the ages of 18 and 25.
- 13% of adult men, compared to 9% of women, have an alcohol use disorder.
- Men are more likely to participate in binge drinking than women and also more likely to end up in the hospital from alcohol poisoning.
- Males are three times more likely than females to commit suicide and are also more likely to have been under the influence when they committed suicide.
- Substances most used and abused by men are alcohol, marijuana, and heroin.
The scope of this issue calls for increased awareness, targeted interventions, and comprehensive support systems to address the various factors influencing men’s vulnerability to substance abuse.
Risk Factors for Addiction Issues in Men
While men are generally more likely to use and misuse substances than women, certain risk factors put men more at risk of substance use than others.
Recognizing and addressing these risk factors in men may help prevent some instances of addiction before they can start.
Risk factors for addiction issues in men include:
- Being male: Males are likelier to engage in risky behaviors, including substance use.
- Genetics: A family history of substance abuse can increase the likelihood of developing addiction in men.
- Having family members or friends who use substances: Peer and family influences can play a significant role in the development of substance use disorders.
- Exposure to high-risk environments: Living in neighborhoods with easy access to drugs and alcohol can increase the likelihood of substance use.
- Mental health issues: Men with mental health disorders are more likely to develop substance use disorders, as they may use substances to self-medicate.
- Early initiation of substance use: Engaging in alcohol or drug use at a young age can increase the risk of developing addiction later in life.
- Family conflict, abuse, or neglect: Men who experience these issues may turn to substance use as a way to cope with the pain and stress.
Signs of Substance Abuse in Men
Recognizing when a loved one is abusing substances is not always easy, but there are a few telltale signs that can be cause for alarm.
Signs of substance abuse in men include:
- Changes in physical appearance: Unusual weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, bloodshot eyes, or dilated pupils
- Risky behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence, such as driving, unprotected sex, or using dirty needles
- Mood swings: Unexplained changes in mood, irritability, or aggression
- Loss of interest in hobbies: Giving up activities that were once enjoyable in favor of substance use
- Increased tolerance: Needing more of a substance to achieve the same effects or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Social isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities
- Neglect of responsibilities: Falling behind at work, school, or home and neglecting personal obligations
If you notice any of the above symptoms in one of your loved ones and are worried it may be due to substance abuse, let them know about your concerns. Early intervention is essential.
Effects of Substance Abuse in Men
Substance abuse can have severe adverse effects in nearly all areas of a man’s life. When an addiction is severe enough, it can completely take over.
Some of the effects of substance abuse on men can include:
- Strained relationships: Substance abuse can cause difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, and partners, leading to isolation and loneliness.
- Increased risk of violence: Substance abuse can lead to aggressive behavior and an increased likelihood of engaging in violent acts.
- Work performance problems: Men facing substance abuse may experience difficulties in their job performance, leading to job loss or strained relationships with colleagues.
- Mental illness: Substance abuse can affect existing mental health issues or cause the development of new mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
- Decreased testosterone levels: Substance abuse can decrease testosterone levels, potentially affecting fertility and sexual health.
By enrolling in a men’s drug and alcohol recovery program, men can begin to take back control over their lives and reduce some of these negative effects.
What to Expect in Addiction Treatment Programs for Men
When choosing an addiction recovery center for yourself or a loved one, choose one that is nationally accredited, uses evidence-based treatments, and has high ratings or positive testimonials from past clients.
Below are a few types of treatment services and specific therapies you can expect to find in your treatment plan while at an addiction center for men.
Men-Only Inpatient Rehab
Inpatient treatment can be short-term, lasting a few weeks or a couple of months, or long-term, lasting several months to a year or more.
With gender-separate inpatient rehab, men will live and attend treatment exclusively with other men, an effective method.
Residential treatment often begins with a period of medical detox. Then, once the person has achieved sobriety, they can begin attending individual and group therapy sessions and other types of support their facility offers.
Gender-Separate Outpatient Treatment
Gender-separate outpatient treatment allows men to focus on their treatment without particular distractions that sometimes come with being around members of the opposite sex.
Outpatient treatment can also be ideal for those with many obligations and responsibilities that it would be challenging to take time away from.
Additionally, outpatient treatment is often offered in multiple levels of care: regular outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid and alcohol use disorders is also commonly provided at outpatient detox centers.
Men who are addicted to drugs or alcohol can become increasingly violent or aggressive as their addiction continues, leading to the need for anger management therapy in some cases.
The main focus in anger management therapy is on determining the root of the anger and learning tools to replace the angry and aggressive behavior with healthier and more constructive responses.
Mindfulness and Stress Management Training
Mindfulness and stress management training is a type of therapy often considered more holistic but is very effective when treating substance abuse and helping maintain sobriety.
This type of therapy involves learning mindfulness exercises and putting them into practice in daily life as a way to reduce stress. Skills can include yoga and meditation.
Men’s Recovery Support Groups
Recovery support groups for men are designed to give men a safe place to share their stories and experiences with other men who have had similar experiences.
While support groups are not considered an actual form of treatment, they are crucial to recovery, especially in people with substance abuse and mental health issues.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment is effective when treating substance abuse, as it addresses a person’s co-occurring disorders and addiction.
Mental health and behavioral health conditions that commonly co-occur with substance abuse in men include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Panic disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Dual diagnosis treatment often includes behavioral therapy, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) being two of the most common kinds.
Sober Living and Aftercare
The recovery process does not end once someone graduates from a rehab program or leaves an addiction treatment center.
Continuing treatment in aftercare is important for long-term success, as is a safe and sober living environment to return to upon completion of a program.
Men may feel more comfortable in transitional or sober living environments that are exclusive to men, as living with and being around the opposite sex could prove distracting and harmful.
How to Work Through Substance Use Issues With Men
Talking to a loved one about substance abuse can be uncomfortable and even scary, especially if they have shown signs in the past of violence or aggression while under the influence.
This is why it is essential to plan ahead for multiple scenarios, depending on how your loved one responds to the conversation.
Tips for talking to your loved one about substance abuse:
- Be mindful of your body language and tone of voice.
- Consult with friends and family first and enlist their support when necessary.
- Choose the right time to talk (when everyone is sober and in a positive frame of mind, if possible).
- Have a plan of what to say, and even practice in advance if possible.
- Encourage your loved one to seek professional help.
- Ask them how you can help support them through the recovery process.
It is important to remember that not everyone will be receptive to a loved one’s concerns and go willingly into treatment.
In this event, you may need to have boundaries and consequences in place. For instance, if your loved one refuses to seek treatment, you may need to ask them to leave your home if they are living with you.
Benefits of Addiction Treatment for Men
While gender-specific treatment may not be the right option for some, this type of treatment can provide many benefits to men who are looking to break free from addiction.
Some of the benefits of substance abuse treatment for men include:
- Safe environment: Men-only programs allow participants to feel safe and comfortable while discussing sensitive topics and expressing their emotions in the company of other men.
- Gender-specific treatment: Men’s addiction treatment programs address men’s unique needs and challenges, enabling them to confront issues specific to their gender.
- Tailored therapy: Programs designed for men often incorporate therapies and activities that specifically target the root causes of addiction in men, such as unhealed trauma and relationship issues.
- Support network: Men’s addiction treatment programs encourage the formation of lasting friendships and accountability partnerships, providing crucial support during recovery.
- Relapse prevention support: Men’s addiction treatment programs teach coping strategies and tools to help clients manage cravings and triggers, reducing the risk of relapse.
Substance abuse rehab can also improve the lives of men by increasing self-esteem, improving communication skills, and addressing co-occurring disorders, all of which can help to improve the chances of long-term recovery.
Cost of Men’s Rehab Programs
Financial barriers can sometimes prevent people from seeking addiction treatment, but alcohol and drug rehab is often more affordable than people may believe.
Men have several options available when it comes to paying for rehab treatment, and many times can receive their treatment for very little cost or even free.
Rehab Insurance Coverage
Most rehab centers accept at least one form of private or state-funded insurance, except for some luxury treatment facilities that only accept cash or self-pay.
State-funded insurance plans include Medicaid and Medicare, with the main difference being that Medicare is for people 65 and older.
For men with lower incomes or disabilities or who are a caregiver to a child under 18, Medicaid can be an excellent option for affordable coverage.
Payment Plans at Men’s Rehab Centers
It is common for rehab centers to offer different types of financial assistance to clients to make their services more affordable and accessible to those who need them.
One such form of financial assistance is the option of payment plans, which allow people to pay for their treatment over time (with or without interest) depending on the individual facility.
Some rehab centers also offer what is called a sliding fee scale, meaning that they charge fees based on a person’s income and only what they can afford.
Barriers to Addiction Treatment for Men
Men face unique barriers when considering whether to enter a substance use disorder treatment program, many of which revolve around how men are generally perceived and understood in society.
Some of the barriers that prevent men from seeking addiction treatment include:
- Cultural perceptions: Men may perceive seeking help for addiction as a sign of weakness or failure, making them hesitant to reach out for assistance.
- Financial concerns: As primary earners in many households, men may worry about the financial impact of taking time off work to attend treatment.
- Fear of judgment: Concerns about being judged by peers, colleagues, or family members may prevent men from admitting they need help and seeking treatment.
- The stigma surrounding mental health: Mental health issues, which often accompany addiction, may be stigmatized, preventing men from seeking treatment.
- Lack of awareness: Men may not be aware of available resources or may not know how to access appropriate addiction treatment programs.
Fortunately, a barrier is just an obstacle that can be broken down. Many of the barriers men face can be addressed by seeking addiction treatment tailored specifically to men and their unique challenges.
Resources for Men Seeking Addiction Treatment
The following resources are available to men and their loved ones as they seek help for a substance use disorder or addiction.
Resources for men seeking addiction treatment include:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA provides numerous substance abuse and mental health resources, including a grant finder and a treatment center locator at findtreatment.gov.
- 988 Suicide Crisis and Lifeline: Formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, this 24/7 confidential and free support helpline is available to help anyone experiencing a crisis or distress.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: This 24/7 free and confidential hotline assists members of both sexes who find themselves victims of domestic abuse.
- Alcoholics Anonymous: The AA website provides literature on alcohol abuse, the 12 steps, and a search tool for locating an AA meeting near you.
- Narcotics Anonymous: The NA website is similar to AA but focuses on all substances instead of just alcohol treatment and provides literature and a search tool for locating meetings.
You can also find local resources for men with addiction by speaking to your primary care physician or any health care or treatment provider that you trust.
Find Help for Men With Addiction
If you are a man with addiction or know a man facing addiction, please know that resources are available to help you get your life back on track.
No one has to live with addiction if they choose not to, and gender-specific treatment can be just what a person needs to break free.
Visit findtreatment.gov when you are ready to locate a gender-separate alcohol and drug rehab center for men near you.