June is Men’s Health Month. Why is it important to shed a spotlight on men’s health? On average, men die almost five years earlier than women. In particular, mental health is a concern for men, as men are four times as likely to die by suicide than women. Men experiencing addiction face unique challenges when it comes to seeking treatment. Let’s take a look at those challenges and why getting treatment is essential.
Masculinity: A Barrier to Getting Help
In most age groups, men have higher rates of using or being dependent on drugs or alcohol. There are typically more men in treatment programs than women, but that may be because more men are referred to treatment by courts and through workplace programs. In other words, they aren’t necessarily there willingly. When it comes to mental health issues, men face difficulties in seeking and accepting help.
These difficulties come from how our society defines masculinity. Men are expected to be stoic and unemotional. They’re expected to be strong, invulnerable, and risk-takers. They may be afraid of judgment from their peers if they seek help. They may be skeptical of the treatment process, which involves digging into how you feel. They may have a sense of failure or helplessness for not being able to solve their substance use issues on their own.
Of course, these are broad strokes. Culture, sexuality, and family also impact how men view themselves and masculinity.
Men may also face challenges once they enter treatment. They may be reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings. They may feel a sense of shame, which may be expressed as anger at treatment providers or peers in recovery. An understanding treatment provider can help men cope with the range of feelings they have about being in treatment. They can help men remember that getting treatment is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Men may benefit from participating in men-only support group meetings. Gay, bisexual, and trans men may want to seek specialized support groups to find peers who understand their struggles.
Once men complete treatment, they tend to have longer periods of abstinence than women. That doesn’t mean that life is easy once treatment ends, but there is reason to be hopeful.
If you or a loved one is experiencing substance use disorder, it’s important to seek help, even if it’s difficult. A visit to your primary care provider can be a good place to start. Keep in mind that most primary care providers have seen it all, so they’re unlikely to judge your substance abuse issues. Your primary care provider can help assess your physical and mental health. Many men have a dual diagnosis, which means they have both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. If you have a dual diagnosis, it’s important to treat both conditions.
Men may not realize they have an underlying mental health condition. Depression, for example, can manifest differently in men. Rather than being sad, they may be angry or aggressive. Rather than seeking medical care, they may self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Alcohol or drug use may exacerbate the depression, and it turns into a cycle. A medical provider can help diagnose what’s going on and make treatment recommendations and referrals.
Men should also seek addiction treatment. There are many options for addiction treatment, and outpatient treatment may be a particularly good fit for men. Outpatient programs are flexible, meeting for a few hours during the day or in the evening. You can continue outside responsibilities like work, school, and family life while getting the help you need.
Start a New Life
At New Life Addiction Counseling and Mental Health Services, we know that each person faces a unique set of challenges. Our Pasadena, MD, treatment center helps men and women find recovery every day. Our program includes education and counseling, and our outpatient schedule allows you to meet your daily responsibilities. We’re experienced in working with clients who have a dual diagnosis, and we accept most commercial insurance plans and Maryland Medicaid.
It takes courage and strength to seek help. You can do it. Contact us today to get started.