According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs, and men have higher rates of use and dependence than women. This also holds true for alcohol dependence, as men meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence at a rate of 4.5% compared to 2.5% in women, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
While women attempt suicide more often than men, men are more likely to “complete” suicide, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic also notes how alcohol and drug use problems can be a sign/symptom that a man is struggling with depression.
Often, mental health issues (like depression) and issues dealing with substance abuse coincide. In both matters, men can have a more difficult time admitting they need help. For some men, it can be especially challenging to seek help for a few reasons.
In many cultures, men are expected to behave in a certain way. They’re not meant to need help, they’re the ones supposed to be providing support. This can lead to men feeling like they can’t express needing help with their mental health or addictions.
In the long-run, this can lead to men completely ignoring the things they feel like they cannot control. For example, the Mayo Clinic notes how men often refuse treatment for depression and will, generally, attempt to ignore their depression altogether.
Wanting to appear “strong” and “superior”
Most likely due to cultural stereotypes, many men spend a lot of their time competing with other men for who is “better” or “stronger.” In many situations, this may lead to a man feeling like his struggles with a mental health condition or a substance abuse disorder make him somehow less of a man.
According to an article published by Mental Health First Aid entitled “Is Addiction a Choice?”, this concept may be the origin of the “addiction is a choice” myth. This idea can lead to the thinking that addiction must be “based on weakness, lack of willpower, and poor judgment.” This can lead many men to feel as if they are too weak and not worth recovery.
Science disagrees with this narrative, though. According to the Mental Health First article previously mentioned, addiction has a proven genetic disposition and is often influenced by environmental factors that are often out of one’s control (especially since these events tend to happen in early childhood). Bottom line? Addiction does not equal weakness.
The role of “the provider”
For some men, getting help can mean “being taken care of.” This often means that a man feels like he cannot get help because that would go against his role as a man. According to this system of beliefs, he can’t go to therapy, he can only send his wife to treatment.
For men to get the help they need, they must address the stereotypes that give them even more shame than is already associated with addiction and mental health. Men need to see their sobriety journey as the ultimate sign of strength instead of weakness.
Keeping your mental health in check is a vital part of keeping your sobriety in check. Never hesitate to seek help when you need it. For more information on help with your individual mental health and sobriety needs, call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843.