Statistics show that men are more likely to suffer from substance use disorders but less likely to seek treatment for it. However, Bryan Alzate, CEO of United Recovery CA says that ‘the stigma surrounding mental health affects people regardless of gender.’
Men feel the need to present themselves as robust and unaffected by the woes of life. This leads to unspoken feelings and repressed hurt, leading to drug use, abuse, and addiction. Hence the rise of male-only drug rehabs.
Men Struggle with Substance Use Disorder
The risk factors that contribute to men being victims of substance use disorders are fairly numerous. Statistically, men are more likely to engage in illicit drug use for recreational purposes just for the sake of being adventurous.
Men are also more likely to not seek help for their mental health issues which leads to self-medication with alcohol and illicit drugs. The pressures that young boys face to behave a certain way and to suppress their psychological traumas lead them to hesitate while they struggle in silence.
Studies have shown that almost half of the people suffering from a SUD have coexisting mental illnesses. These include depression, anxiety, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, etc.
The rates of suicide attempts are also much higher in men than women. This is an indicator of their hesitance to reach out for help. Most of the people who end up committing suicide have been found to be suffering from substance use or alcohol use disorders.
Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to pay extra attention and care while diagnosing mental illnesses and their manifestations. It is also crucial to build awareness around these issues and to let people know that they are not alone in their suffering and that help is available to them.
The Stigma of Male Mental Health
In the past few decades, statistics have shown that women seek professional help for their mental health and substance use disorders more than men.
They feel ashamed to disclose not only their true feelings but also when they are deeply struggling with their mental health. Mental health issues can manifest as a result of sexual abuse and emotional abuse which they feel obligated to hide.
They perceive their vulnerability as a sign of weakness. This in turn often leads them to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms including alcohol and drug abuse which leads to alcohol and drug addiction. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around six million men suffer from depression in the United States.
The stigma surrounding men’s mental health manifests as self-stigma, social stigma, cultural stigma, and professional stigma.
Self-stigma and internalization of patriarchal mindsets lead men to believe that if they exhibit signs of depression or emotional vulnerability, it is a sign of weakness and cowardice. Social stigma and cultural stigma make people feel too embarrassed to seek help for their mental health and substance use disorders.
The Pressure to Care for Your Family and How to Care for Yourself
One of the reasons why self-stigma surrounding mental health and SUDs prevails in men is that they feel pressured to put their family before their well-being. In our male-dominated society, men end up placing themselves on a pedestal as breadwinners and sole caretakers of the family.
This ends up being more than they can handle in many situations. It also leads to alienation from their loved ones where they feel unable to express their true feelings for fear of appearing as unreliable.
For this reason, even if men end up reaching out for help for their alcohol and substance use disorders, they opt for detox or outpatient programs. They feel guilty for not taking care of their family or earning for them while they take time off to heal from their SUD or mental health disorders.
Hence, it is important to take a step back and encourage an environment of open communication with one’s family and loved ones. This makes people more empathetic toward one another and also cultivates an environment where there is no shame associated with reaching out for help.
Why Choose a Residential Rehab?
Inpatient rehabilitation centers are designed and catered to provide detoxification and rehab facilities to people suffering from mental health disorders, alcohol use disorders, and any type of substance use disorder. Following are the benefits of seeking residential rehabilitation:
- Safe medical detox is provided in inpatient rehabilitation to reduce the painful symptoms of detoxification.
- Trained medical staff is available 24/7. They will help you take care of yourself while you focus on getting your life back on track.
- Rehabilitation facilities provide clients an environment of empathy and encouragement to live a life free from alcohol or drug dependency.
- Mental health professionals are readily available to help you explore underlying mental health issues that may contribute to your SUD.
- The environment will help you break the cycle of addiction and build healthy life habits so you feel confident and sure of yourself before you start a fresh chapter of your life.
Men’s Residential Treatment Programs
Gender-specific rehab programs can help one recover in an environment where one feels more understood and accepted. It is hard for men to open up to those around them. However, when the right environment is provided with people going through the same thing as you, it becomes much easier.
There are many advantages to seeking out a mens’ only rehabilitation program. While all rehab programs aim to create a judgement-free environment, it becomes significantly more comfortable when one opts for a facility where one feels naturally at ease.
One may find people who relate to one’s problems. This is very encouraging. Listening to other men’s problems, thoughts, and experiences can also help one learn a lot of healthy lessons. It also helps to break the stigma around mental health that is more prevalent in male-dominated circles.
#1 Men face deeper social stigma regarding mental health and SUDs. They find it difficult to come forward about issues they are facing and to seek help regarding their alcohol and substance use disorders.
#2 These issues should be addressed as current statistics regarding men’s mental health, SUD, and suicide rates are increasingly alarming.
#3 There are many benefits to inpatient rehabilitation services. Men’s only rehabilitation facilities are also available to help men with their mental health and substance use disorders.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.