While healing from addiction is an ongoing journey that would prove difficult for anyone, men can face unique challenges in recovery. As we observe Men’s Health Month this June, we are taking some time to acknowledge the difficulties men experience. That’s why we’ve outlined seven challenges that men face in recovery.
1- Men Are More Likely to Abuse Substances
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse(opens in a new tab), men are more likely than women to abuse almost all types of drugs. Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations, and higher rates of addiction to different drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and opioids than women. This may be due to several factors, many of which relate to socialization. It's not uncommon for men to feel peer pressure to use substances or have easy access to them, as risk-taking behavior and being able to 'hold your liquor' are seen as masculine traits.
2- Lack of Social Support
Men are less likely to have strong social support systems than women. This is because men often don’t have as many close relationships or communicate openly about their feelings. As a result, men may find it more difficult to express their emotions and to ask for help when they need it. When men do not have strong social support systems, they may be more likely to turn to substances as a way to cope with stress or other negative emotions on their own. Having a support system is an essential component of a successful recovery, so this can make it harder for men to stay on track in their sobriety.
3- Men Are More Likely to Have Co-occurring Disorders
At least half(opens in a new tab) of those who struggle with addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are more common among men than women, with symptoms appearing at an earlier age. These disorders on their own can be difficult to treat and have a significantly higher rate of substance abuse in comparison to other diagnoses. Men are also more prone to develop autism spectrum disorders, impulse control problems, and antisocial personality conditions, all of which can raise the risk of addiction.
Co-occurring disorders can make it more challenging for men to recover from addiction, as they may be more likely to turn to self-medication with substances. The existence of co-occurring disorders is why it is important to treat both substance use disorders and mental health disorders simultaneously, rather than separately. That is why Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers apply a whole-person approach, treating the biological, psychological, spiritual, and social aspects of addiction.
4- Men Have a Hard Time Opening Up
One of the most important elements of a recovery process is connecting with others and becoming part of a supportive group. This includes openly communicating with both mental health professionals and individuals on the same path to healing in rehab. The more people participate in this support network, the more they get out of the experience. But, one of the challenges that men face during addiction recovery is opening up about their feelings and experiences. Many men feel like they have to be strong and stoic, which can make it difficult for them to express themselves emotionally. This can make it hard for men to connect with others in recovery and to get the support they need. It can also lead to men feeling isolated and alone, which can increase the risk of relapse.
5- Triggering Environments
Many men work in industries that are high risk or have a culture of substance abuse. Manual labor is hard on the body and it is common for workers in these industries to self-medicate with opioids and other substances. When you are in recovery, it is key to avoid environments that trigger your cravings, but for men in certain industries, it can be difficult to stay sober. When you are constantly exposed to environments that can trigger a relapse, it poses a threat to the progress you have made in your recovery.
6- Men Are More Reluctant to Seek Help
Men are less likely than women to seek assistance for virtually anything, from asking for directions to putting furniture together or resolving a problem at work. According to studies(opens in a new tab), men are far less likely to seek help for mental health issues. This helps to explain why it's so difficult to get them to accept advice or guidance from others, especially when it comes to mental health or addiction. When men refuse to seek help, they will likely pretend that things are fine even when it is just the opposite. That’s why it often takes something drastic or mandatory for them to seek out the help they need.
While the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health is a problem for everyone, men may be more likely to face stigma due to cultural expectations of masculinity. Men may feel like they need to hide their struggles with addiction or mental health to maintain their image of being strong and in control. This stigma can make it hard for men to seek help for their addiction and can prevent them from getting the treatment they need.
7- Men Have Higher Risk of Relapse
Studies(opens in a new tab) have shown that men have a higher risk for relapse than women. This may be because, as mentioned before, men are more likely to abuse substances for a longer time and at higher levels than women. In addition, because men are less likely to have strong social support systems, they may be more likely to turn to substances as a way to cope with stress or other negative emotions on their own. This can make it harder for men to stay on track in their recovery.
It’s also important to note that while many people assume negative emotions trigger a relapse, men often relapse when dealing with positive emotions. Because males are less aware of their emotional side, it appears that ecstatic feelings might cloud their judgment. When males feel particularly great, they are more likely to let down their guard and believe they can resume using drugs or alcohol in moderation this time. This unexpected trigger increases the possibility of relapse in men.
These unique challenges are all the more reasons to encourage men to participate in aftercare or continuing care programs. While the obstacles that men face can surely interfere with the treatment process, with the right care and support, men can reach a lifetime of recovery. You don’t have to be afraid to ask for help at Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers. Our compassionate team of physicians will welcome you with open arms, without judgment, and with your best interest in mind. If you are struggling with addiction, join our community where we dedicate ourselves to helping men and women reach a sustainable recovery.
At Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers, we are dedicated to helping provide our patients with the resources and support they need to achieve a sustainable recovery. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with addiction, our high-quality, trained specialists can help you achieve your recovery goals. Schedule your first appointment with one of our recovery centers today or call (330) 744- 1181 for more information.