Information on Substance Abuse Treatment for Men

Created On Wednesday, 13, January 2016
Modified On Friday, 17, September 2021

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Most rehabilitation centers across the country design programs to deliver a specific type of care to a specific type of person. Rehabilitation should be tailored to the needs of the individual attending treatment, which does make it more effective. Substance abuse treatment centers for men are specific to the treatment needs of men. Drug addiction impacts men and women differently, which is why there are gender-specific treatment programs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men tend to have a more severe addiction problem and more of other substance use problems. Approximately five million men reported the misuse of prescription pain medication. Also, 45% of men attended treatment for barbiturate addiction.

Male only treatment programs are a type of treatment geared to men and are designed to address the issues most commonly faced by men in their experience with addiction. Typically, addiction occurs more frequently in men, and addiction kills more men than women. Also, men tend to exhibit higher rates of psychological issues when addicted and are more likely to misuse multiple drugs. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more men than women in treatment for substance abuse. However, men are historically more likely to seek treatment for certain addictions. Substance abuse also progresses differently for men than women.

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Generally, men are more likely to become addicts, and men are more likely to abuse substances due to peer pressure or to be part of a group. Also, men tend to experience more intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal than women—the risk of relapse for men is less likely. Men are compelled to go into treatment for different reasons. There is the desire to appear strong and independent that causes men to try and deal with their substance abuse without any help. Men tend to perform better in a therapeutic environment with other men when discussing similar issues surrounding their addiction.

However, some men find it difficult to analyze their problems and may become aggressive, competitive, or combative with staff or fellow group members. The staff at men-only treatment programs have experience working with recovering men and understand the unique challenges of treatment they face. According to a Pew Research Study, men are more likely to engage in illicit drug use and to begin using alcohol or drugs at a younger age. The risk factors that contribute to the rate of substance dependence in men is twice that of women. For example, men are more likely to drink excessively, which increases the rate of alcohol-related deaths. Marijuana use is higher in males, and in 2017, two-thirds of opioid-related deaths were men.

When is Drug Rehabilitation for Men the Best Option?

Per the Pew Research study mentioned above, trauma is an important risk factor for the development of a drug or alcohol addiction. However, there are many reasons why a man would consider substance abuse treatment. Some of the initial indicators that you may need substance abuse treatment include if you have tried to stop using drugs but did not succeed. Also, if you have been using drugs or alcohol for longer in greater amounts than intended and spend too much time and money attempting to obtain drugs, use drugs, and recovery from the effects of drugs. If you have given up on activities, you enjoy to use drugs or alcohol, or have neglected to keep up with your personal responsibilities.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will have conflicts with relationships and will crave drugs or alcohol when they cannot use them. Drug abuse causes dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving, and regular use of drugs or alcohol creates withdrawal symptoms. People who experience adverse childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences before the age of 18 are at increased risk of developing an addiction. When left untreated, substance abuse quickly spirals out of control. Whether the addiction involves alcohol, street drugs, or prescriptions, the problems tend to last longer for men. There is no bad time to consider substance abuse treatment and family intervention is a common approach taken. Overall, rehabilitation benefits someone at any stage of addiction, whether severe or displaying early signs of addiction.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction Among Men

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking or binge drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks when combined with excessive drinking. Approximately 58% of adult men report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and 23% report binge drinking five times a month. Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women, and 4.5% of men met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

Overall, men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations. Among drivers in a vehicle crash, men are twice as likely than women to have been intoxicated. Excessive alcohol consumption with men increases aggression, and there are higher rates of suicide with men who drink excessively. Excessive alcohol consumption with men also interferes with hormone production, and excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of sexual assault.

Alcohol addiction is a common problem across the United States, and alcohol is socially accepted across the nation. Many studies have shown that men are five times more likely than women to have a serious alcohol abuse problem. Some of the signs of alcohol addiction and abuse include drinking excessive amounts of alcohol nearly every day. Most alcoholics drink alone and drive while drinking. Someone who drinks excessively has problems at work and their job and becomes defensive about drinking, including denying a problem. Many men use alcohol to bond with friends, and it can often lead to excessive drinking.

Marijuana Dependence Among Men

Typically, men use more marijuana than men, and marijuana use is also associated with more intimate partner violence perpetration among men arrested for domestic, per a 2018 research study. According to the study, marijuana use is prevalent among men arrested for domestic violence and is directly linked to intimate partner violence. Marijuana use does cause physical and psychological dependence and is a common drug used with other drugs. Men often abuse marijuana to manage stress and anxiety, and the relaxing nature of marijuana leads men to self-medicate with it, this becoming reliant on the calming effects. Marijuana use does lead to a lot of time and money being spent contributing to the problems of addiction.

The signs of marijuana use are smoking marijuana every day or multiple times a day, along with showing signs of anxiety or frustration when the person cannot smoke marijuana. Marijuana users will display extremely relaxed behavior and show signs of cognitive impairment. Someone who is prescribed anti-anxiety medication would supplement it with marijuana or use both. Marijuana abuse and alcohol abuse tend to go hand-in-hand, and it is also often part of larger addiction problems.

How is Drug Rehab Programs for Men Different Than Other Treatment Programs?

Most treatment approaches that are useful for men are the same that have been found useful for most addicts. Most people in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center are men; however, small adaptations are made to improve treatment for men within male-only treatment programs. For example, during residential treatment, the individual may receive more individualized care. Like any other treatment program, there is an evaluation in which the person is asked about their substance use, medical history, mental health, and other relevant issues. The initial assessment or evaluation is used to create a plan for care that is tailored to the individual's specific needs.

The rehabilitation process begins with detox, and the severity of addiction determines what method of detox is required. For example, medical detox would be needed to address opioid addiction or other forms of prescription drug abuse. Once the withdrawal period has been successfully managed, the person should be feeling better and more ready to begin engaging in therapy. When treating men struggling with addiction, therapists may utilize more than one form of therapy. Men often respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy allows therapists to discover the harmful thoughts and behaviors that keep a person locked in unhealthy patterns of addiction. The process helps the patient develop better ways of thinking and operating in the world, and it helps develop new ways of coping that do not include drugs or alcohol.

Following the completion of inpatient or outpatient drug rehabilitation, the next treatment step should involve aftercare support. An aftercare program could include a sober living home, a transitional house for men, or peer support groups like 12-step meetings. Aftercare support helps recovering addicts remain connected to other sober people and make an easy transition into society again. Men who have completed substance abuse treatment will have access to men-only sober living or peer support groups for men recovering from addiction.

Causes of Substance Abuse with Men

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drug use among men is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men. Within most age groups of men, there are higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol. The causes of substance abuse are different for each person, but there are many common reasons why men become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

For example, expectations of masculinity do lead to self-medication, and some gender-related expectations can encourage men to prove their masculinity through dangerous actions, like using drugs or alcohol. Some men feel that asking for help or seeking treatment is weak, but long-term substance abuse results in physical and mental health problems. Men also struggle with the pressure related to life circumstances, which is life-related stress and anxiety that contribute to substance abuse. Some men struggle with extreme pressure to succeed at work, which is combined with a lack of support from family members or close friends.

Some addiction professionals believe there is a genetic predisposition to substance use, such as a family history of addiction that could contribute to drug use. However, much of this is linked back to the environment a man would grow up in and then project that same environment on to his children. For many men, substance abuse begins with the legitimate use of pharmaceuticals for medical reasons. However, long-term use of prescription drugs or the misuse of prescribed drugs does lead to addiction. Trauma and adverse childhood experiences are the most common reason why many men become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Also, men who experience traumatic events as an adult are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol.

Common Terminology with Substance Abuse Treatment for Men

Term Definition
Gender-Based Substance Abuse Treatment gender-specific treatment refers to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs that are designed to specifically treat men and women separately. Men-only substance abuse treatment provides specific resources to treat men struggling with addiction.
Binge Drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 g/dl or above. Typically, when men consume five or more drinks within two hours, this would occur.
Problem Drinking Patterns refers to individuals who are having difficulties in their lives due to their alcohol intake. Problem drinking is also used to refer to people who have not yet developed full-blown alcoholism but struggle with alcohol abuse.
Adverse Childhood Experience these are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood, such as experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, or witnessing violence in the home or community. Adverse childhood experiences lead to addiction among men.
Sober Living Homes these are sober living environments that provide safe housing and supportive, structured living conditions for people exiting drug rehabilitation programs. Men-only sober living communities are common.
Transitional Living this type of housing helps residents adjust from rehab to everyday life at a comfortable. Transitional housing also helps residents transition to affordable housing when available and learn new job skills.
Behavioral Therapy is an umbrella term used to describe different types of therapy that treat addiction. The therapy seeks to identify and help change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors connected to addiction. Behavioral therapy does tend to be the most effective approach for men struggling with addiction.
Poly Drug Use refers to the use of combined psychoactive substances to achieve a particular effect. Multiple drugs are used at one time, and men struggling with addiction are often polydrug users.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence is defined as the physical and psychological behavior and compulsion to take a drug or alcohol on a continuous or periodic basis. Dependence leads to addiction—for example, dependence occurs with prescription pain medication.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction typically, it is defined as chronic relapsing with drugs or alcohol, drug-seeking behavior, and continued use despite harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Marcel Gemme, DATS - Author

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.


Michael Leach, CCMA - Medically Reviewed on September 17, 2021

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.