Updated on March 26, 2024
8 min read

Why Are Men More Susceptible to Addiction?

Addiction can be a difficult and isolating experience, whether you're the one struggling or watching someone you care about fight this battle. Understanding the reasons addiction can take hold, especially for men, is crucial for finding a path toward help and healing. 

This article offers insight into addiction in men, providing guidance and support for both those fighting for recovery and their loved ones.

10 Reasons Why Men Are More Prone to Addiction

1. Societal Attitudes and Peer Pressure

It can feel like substance use is expected of men. Society and friend groups might sometimes make it seem like drinking or using drugs is a normal part of being a man or even something to be proud of.

2. Toxic Masculinity and Externalization of Emotions

Some men feel pressure to hide painful emotions. They might be taught that it's not "manly" to show sadness, fear, or hurt. This can lead to using substances to try and numb those feelings.

3. Weaker Social Ties

Men may not have a strong support system. Some men rely heavily on a partner and may not have close friends or family to turn to in tough times, making substances feel like the only way to cope.

4. Reluctance to Seek Help

Asking for help can feel like admitting weakness. Men might feel societal pressure to be strong and self-sufficient, making it harder to admit they need help with addiction.

5. Higher Rates of Substance Use and Dependence

Men are more likely to use substances heavily for longer periods. This can increase their risk of developing addiction compared to women.

6. Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues

Untreated mental health problems can make addiction more likely. Men with anxiety, depression, or other mental health struggles might use substances to try to feel better temporarily, which often makes things worse in the long run.

7. Biological Factors

Men's bodies process substances differently. This can sometimes mean men develop a tolerance to substances faster, leading them to use more and increasing their risk of addiction.

8. Early Initiation and Risk-Taking Behaviors

Starting substance use early and taking risks is more common in men. These behaviors can make men much more likely to develop addiction problems.

9. Cultural and Environmental Triggers

Men are more likely to be triggered by cues related to using substances. Seeing drug paraphernalia, places where they used to use, or even certain groups of people can trigger intense cravings.

10. Social Determinants of Health

Poverty, unemployment, and other struggles hit men hard. These stressors can make men more vulnerable to turning to substances for relief, leading to addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction in Men

Addiction affects the body, mind, and actions of men struggling with substance use. It's important to understand that there's no shame in seeking help.

Societal pressure can make men hide addiction. If you notice these signs, it's time to get help:

Physical Signs of Addiction

Men might try to downplay their substance use or become very good at hiding it for fear of seeming weak. However, some physical signs of addiction can be hard to hide. These include:

  • Bloodshot eyes or pupils that look much bigger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in how much they eat or sleep (like sleeping all day, staying up all night)
  • Unusual smells on their breath, body, or clothing
  • Neglecting their appearance, wearing unwashed clothes, or not keeping up with basic hygiene like showering
  • Marks on their skin from drug use
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Problems with coordination

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Men may be more likely to take dangerous risks to continue their substance use. This can lead to more serious consequences.

Some behavioral signs of addiction include:

  • Struggling to keep up at work, school, or at home
  • Suddenly hanging with a new crowd
  • Dropping old hobbies
  • Acting secretive about where they're going and who they see
  • Unexplained money problems
  • Constantly borrowing or seeming broke
  • Getting into legal trouble

Psychological Signs of Addiction

Men struggling with addiction will also display some psychological signs. These include becoming irritable or angry for no reason. They may also seem unreasonably scared or paranoid.

They may also lose motivation to do anything. This includes feeling hopeless or having a very negative outlook on life.

If you or a man you care about exhibits any of these signs, please don't hesitate to seek professional help. Addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible.

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What are the Impacts of Addiction in Men?

Addiction has a devastating impact on men's lives, hurting their physical health, mental well-being, and their relationships.

Some of the serious physical consequences of addiction in men include:

  • Increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes
  • Liver damage
  • Serious lung diseases 
  • Sexual health problems
  • Infections like HIV and AIDS (from sharing needles)
  • Long-term damage to your bones and muscles

The psychological damage of addiction includes:

  • Increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles
  • Brain damage (memory problems, trouble focusing, and impaired decision-making)
  • Mood swings (feeling irritable or angry and withdrawing from others)

Addiction can also lead to risky behaviors, including driving under the influence and other illegal activities. Men may perform poorly at work, becoming more at risk of being fired.

Addiction can also put a massive strain on relationships with partners, family, and friends, often leading to isolation. Men often feel societal pressure to hide their struggles, making it hard to ask for help and start recovery.

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Support and Treatment Options for Men

Overcoming addiction isn't easy, but there are many different resources to help men achieve lasting recovery. 

An effective treatment plan is often a combination of several of these options. Here's a breakdown of them:

Types of Treatment Programs

  • Inpatient Treatment: Live-in programs with lots of daily support and structure, helpful if your addiction is severe or you're worried about relapsing at home.
  • Outpatient Treatment: You live at home but go to therapy, groups, and MAT appointments during the day or evening.

Types of Treatment Approaches

  • Medical detox: If you've been using heavily, medical detox helps you withdraw safely from the substance and manage any uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps you identify unhealthy thought patterns and change them, making you less likely to relapse.
  • Motivational interviewing: If you're unsure about getting help, this approach helps you find your own reasons to change and boost your commitment to recovery.
  • Group therapy: Connect with other men going through similar things, building support, and learning from each other.
  • Family therapy: Helps heal relationships with those affected by your addiction.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, helping you focus on recovery.

Support Groups

  • 12-Step Programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous): Offers structure and support, with a focus on taking recovery one day at a time.
  • Non-12-Step Programs (like SMART Recovery): Provides a different approach based on changing behaviors and thoughts rather than focusing on a higher power.

Special Programs for Men

  • Gender-Specific Treatment: Focuses on topics unique to men, like societal pressure and how addiction impacts male identity.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Addresses both addiction and any other mental health struggles you have.

Supplemental Treatment Approaches

Supplemental treatments are meant to be used with other forms of addiction treatment. It creates a holistic approach to recovery.

These approaches include practicing mindfulness and meditation to manage stress and cravings. Supporting your physical well-being through exercise and nutrition will also be important.

What is Addiction Aftercare?

Aftercare involves receiving support after addiction rehab. These include:

  • Sober living homes: Provides a supportive place to live with other men in recovery, making the transition back into normal life easier.
  • Ongoing counseling: Continued therapy helps you stay on track and deal with any challenges that arise.
  • Relapse prevention programs: Helps you recognize the warning signs of relapse and build skills to stay sober.

Telehealth services will also be useful during recovery. Online therapy or counseling is available if attending in person is difficult. You can also use mobile apps to track progress, find support, and learn new coping skills.

Remember, there's no one right path to recovery. The best treatment plan is the one that feels right for you. With the right help, men can break free from addiction and build a healthier, happier life.

How to Support a Man You Care About Who Struggles with Addiction

It can be incredibly difficult to watch a man you care about struggle with addiction. Here's how you can provide the best support:

  • Learn about addiction to understand the disease and be better equipped to help.
  • Let him know you're concerned, but avoid blaming or labeling him.
  • Encourage treatment, and help him find it.
  • Offer to go with him to appointments, help find resources, or provide transportation.
  • Be patient and supportive. Celebrate his progress and offer encouragement throughout the process.
  • Set boundaries. It's okay to say "no" to protect your own well-being. Enabling him won't help in the long run.
  • Join a support group for families (like Al-Anon) and make sure you're taking care of your own needs too.

You can't force him to get help. However, your support and encouragement can make a powerful difference in his recovery journey.

Addiction is a complex disease, but it doesn't have to define a man's life. Whether you're the one struggling with addiction or supporting a loved one who is, know that change is possible.

With understanding, the right support, and a willingness to face challenges, men can break free from addiction and reclaim their lives. Resources are available to help⁠—reach out and start the journey towards healing today.

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Updated on March 26, 2024
13 sources cited
Updated on March 26, 2024
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  2. Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use Disorder Treatment.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2020.
  3. Biology of Addiction.” NIH News in Health, 2015.
  4. Thibaut, F. “Gender Differences in Addiction: Clinical Implications.” Psychiatric Times, 2018.
  5. Grinspoon, P. “Poverty, homelessness, and social stigma make addiction more deadly.” Harvard Health, 2021.
  6. Mosel, S. “Addiction Among Males.” Sunrise House, 2022.
  7. Warning Signs of Drug Abuse.” TN Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services.
  8. Eske, J. “What are the effects of drug misuse?” Medical News Today, 2023.
  9. Thomas, S. “Physical Effects of Drug Abuse.” Greenhouse Treatment Center, 2023.
  10. Holder, A. “Men’s Health Month: Mental Health And Addiction Among Men.”  Niznik Behavioral Health, 2021.
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  12. How Addiction Damages Men's Health.” Oceanfront Recovery, 2021.
  13. The Physical Effects of Drug Abuse.” Midwest Detox Center.

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