Substance use is something many people suffer from in their own lives or in the life of a family member or friend. It can be a difficult subject, especially because the causes of substance use are complex and often different between men and women. For example, statistics show that men typically begin using drugs at a younger age, but women are more prone to relapsing. Additionally, there may be emotional and/or mental health aspects that play a role in substance use. Here are some of the most common causes of substance use in men and associated signals to watch for.
1. Expectations of Masculinity and Self-Medication
Most men are taught from an early age that a “real man” takes risks and doesn’t display weakness. These gender-related expectations can encourage men to prove their masculinity through dangerous actions, such as using illicit substances. Men may also feel that seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses is “cowardly,” so they may self-medicate. Some related warning signs of substance use in men include mood changes such as anger, sadness, and lethargy.
2. Pressure Relating to Life Circumstances
Life-related stress and anxiety are other common contributors to substance use in men. Many men struggle with extreme pressure to succeed at work, often combined with a lack of support from family members or close friends. These factors can lead to substance use, especially in the form of drugs and alcohol.
3. Genetic Predisposition to Substance Use
A family history of addiction can also play a part in substance use. Men who have relatives with substance use disorders are often more likely to face similar problems. Warning signs could include isolationist behavior and withdrawal from relationships with friends and family.
4. Health Conditions
For many men, substance use begins with the legitimate use of pharmaceuticals to combat a diagnosed condition. Improper use of painkillers and mental-health medications can lead to addiction. Potential warning signs may include ignoring proper dosage instructions and not reporting concerning side effects of medication to a physician or therapist.
5. Trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences
Traumatic experiences from childhood, including emotional or sexual abuse, can lead to substance use disorders in men. Additionally, men who experience traumatic events as adults can also turn to illicit substances to combat the symptoms of PTSD or anxiety. Some warning signs to watch for include extreme fatigue, changes to physical appearance, memory issues, and financial problems.
Many men feel that it is socially unacceptable to express grief over the death of a loved one. Instead, they may turn to substance use to escape from emotions. Men may also use illicit substances in social circumstances to avoid displaying emotions. Potential warning signs include excessive drinking in social situations and suicidal behavior.
Substance use can lead to many negative consequences and can greatly affect the lives of both the person and his or her family. Understanding some of the common causes of substance use in men can be the first step in moving toward treatment.
At High Focus Centers, we offer evidence-based treatment programs to help patients overcome substance use and prevent relapse. To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today.