Over the past few decades, the evolution and refinement of modern addiction care has given way to a variety of innovations to give patients the maximum chance of long-term success; one of these developments has been the advent of gender-specific treatment. The origins of substance use disorders (SUDs) and resultant care needs of men and women can vary greatly, and it’s important that you or your male loved one seek access to a facility that is mindful of the gender-related factors that can lead to drug or alcohol abuse. Men’s addiction treatment centers offer specialized care for male patients battling addiction due to factors related to their gender, or those who simply don’t feel comfortable healing in co-ed treatment environment.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women. While women often face more logistical roadblocks to treatment than men, such as the inability to find child care and other issues, males have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol in practically every age group. There are more men than women in treatment for substance use disorders; however, during the past decade, the number of women and men seeking treatment for heroin addiction has become practically even, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Both men and women face considerable expectations and conventions based solely upon their genders, and many find it difficult to manage these cultural pressures. In addition to general identity issues, these gender expectations can create specific scenarios that pave the way for substance abuse.
In the case of men, some of these factors include:
Males very often use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate these problems rather than talking to an experienced and qualified mental health professional. It’s not uncommon for men to internalize their problems because of the fear of shame, stigma, and embarrassment they associate with seeking help. A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that this stigma has a detrimental effect on psychological well-being among individuals who use drugs.
One of the most glaring examples of societal expectations and pressures playing a role in drug addiction among males are the rates of painkiller addiction within this particular population. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the gender gap is narrowing, men still experience prescription opioid addiction at a higher rate than women. Part of this disparity is because of men’s enduring role as the primary breadwinners in their households. Thousands of men get hurt at work or suffer other types of serious injury that cause them to take prescription painkillers so they can keep working. Over time, they develop a tolerance and need more and more of the drug to achieve the same results as their initial dose.
More and more treatment facilities are offering gender-specific programs that cater to the unique care needs of male patients. These facilities provide specialized treatment of substance abuse stemming from sexual identity issues, gender orientation crises, and other factors associated with society’s expectation of the American male. They also provide different levels of care, including inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, and more, to help men get the help they need while maintaining their everyday obligations, such as working and raising their families. Once patients finish their treatment program, they should work with their care professionals to develop an aftercare plan that addresses their specific care needs, to avoid potential relapse.
As jarring as it might sound, you—or a male loved one—is not truly engaged with family or others if drugs or alcohol are currently dictating the quality of life. Males have to address any substance abuse before they can be truly effective with family, friends, or at work, and effective professional treatment to meet those needs is readily available.
drugabuse.gov – Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use
drugabuse.gov – Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use Disorder Treatment
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Substance Use Related Stigma: What we Know and the Way Forward
drugabuse.gov – Prescription Painkillers Are Claiming More Lives
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