Men and Substance Abuse: How Detox Can Help Men Achieve Recovery from Addiction

Understanding why men abuse substances and how they can seek effective detox and addiction treatment.

Anyone can become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or another type of dangerous substance. Whether rich or poor, young or old, male or female, addiction doesn’t care about the qualities of its victims. However, it is important that treatment does take these matters into account, as the reasons why a person becomes addicted can be affected by these variables—and the success of treatment can too. When it comes to men and substance abuse, there are a variety of causes, warning signs, and treatment options to consider.

If you or one of your loved ones is a man struggling with substance abuse, it is time to help him seek the care he needs to recover safely. Substance abuse and addiction are difficult issues to overthrow on one’s own—for anyone—so finding treatment that is not only professional but that takes your loved one’s needs and characteristics into account is absolutely necessary.

Call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) now to speak with a treatment advisor who can help you seek the best options for men’s detox.

Men and Substance Abuse: Why and How It Happens

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men have a higher likelihood of abusing illicit drugs than women do, and illicit drug abuse often leads to serious side effects such as physical and psychological issues, hospitalization, overdose, etc. Illicit drugs, when used in this sense, include all illegal substances like heroin, meth, and cocaine, as well as marijuana (which is still an illegal substance on the federal level) and the abuse of prescription drugs.

In addition, men are also disproportionately affected by a number of other issues associated with substance abuse.

  • Men have higher abuse and dependence rates on alcohol than women.
  • More men use marijuana than women, and studies have shown that men experience a stronger high when using the drug. Men also are more likely to experience a severe substance use disorder when it comes to marijuana abuse, as well as to develop antisocial personality disorder.
  • Men who use heroin are more likely to inject it than women are. They are also more likely to use larger amounts of the drug and for longer periods of time.
  • Men are more likely to abuse multiple drugs than women are, especially men who abuse more common substances like marijuana and alcohol.

Men may also start abusing drugs for different reasons than women do. For example, men who start taking methamphetamine are often more motivated to do so by the promise of better sex, the desire to experiment with a new drug, or simply to replace an old drug of abuse. Men are also more likely to start abusing drugs at an earlier age.

Call now to find addiction recovery programs specifically for men!

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Recognizing Addiction in Men

The National Library of Medicine lists the common signs of a substance use disorder, many of which are shared between men and women such as general confusion and a need for daily drug abuse in order to function. However, there are certain behaviors that are often specific to men who abuse dangerous drugs.

  • Men are very likely to experience intense mood swings, and with some drugs of abuse, to even become aggressive or violent. This is also especially common when the drug itself is not available and a man who is dependent experiences withdrawal symptoms.
  • A lack of interest in personal hygiene, grooming, and one’s physical appearance can also be strong signs of a man who is struggling with substance abuse. This occurs in women as well, but it can be a helpful sign if you’re attempting to determine if someone you love is struggling with this problem.
  • Men often commit risky acts when struggling with a substance use disorder, although women do take on these behaviors as well. However, men are often more likely to drive under the influence or to perform other risky behaviors because of their substance abuse.

In addition, substance abuse in men can lead to a number of serious physical issues. Not only do men experience high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, and many of the other issues women who abuse drugs also face, there are certain problems that are specifically associated with male drug abusers. For example, the NIDA states that infertility, testicle shrinkage, and the development of breasts are some of the possible side effects of steroid abuse. Sexual dysfunction is also a common side effect of any type of long-term substance abuse, as this can often lead to a decrease in sexual desire and impotency in men.

If you notice someone you love is behaving in these ways—or that you yourself are dealing with these side effects or behaviors—it is time for you to seek help. Call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) now.

What Treatments Are Available for Men Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?

There are many treatment options available for men who are struggling with a substance use disorder. In addition, many of these programs may be more or less helpful to you or your loved one depending on individual needs. According to the NIDA, a treatment program should cater to all of one’s needs, not just those associated with their addiction. As such, it is important that the program you choose is suited for the individual’s recovery.

Treatment for substance abuse usually comes in stages. The first of these is detox.

Detoxification is the slow process of weaning a person off a drug on which they are dependent. In some instances, it can also include maintaining an individual on a drug like when opioid addicts are stabilized on methadone or buprenorphine.

The symptoms of withdrawal are managed through detox treatment as the individual is weaned off the drug. This is often done with medications, but treatment options like therapy or holistic programs can be helpful as well.

According to the NIDA, though, detox is only the first stage of addiction treatment.

  • If an individual finishes detox but does not seek further professional care, they will no longer be dependent on the drug but their addiction will still exist.
  • This is often an issue that leads to relapse, and in the case of many drugs of abuse, a deadly overdose, as many individuals do not realize their tolerances for their preferred drugs of abuse will have minimized during detox.

Men who become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance will require rehab treatment after detox ends. However, detox can actually help men hoping to recover from a substance use disorder in many ways.

  • Detox helps patients go through withdrawal safely and under the care of medical professionals.
  • Detox treatment also helps patients transition easily from withdrawal to rehab.
  • Many detox centers offer community referrals and resources, which can be especially helpful during recovery.

What Are the Special Needs of Men When It Comes to Detox Treatment?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women are actually more likely to initiate treatment when they require it. This should be taken into account, as many men often seek treatment either because their family members and loved ones ask them to or because they are required to do so by the judicial system. Still, it has been proven that treatment does not need to be mandatory to be effective for addiction recovery.

Most people in treatment for substance use disorders are male; therefore, most of the options for addiction treatment are effective for men (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). However, like with almost all populations, men have specific needs that must be addressed in substance abuse treatment.

Many men are uncomfortable with the idea of seeking treatment, and as stated previously, will have come to the program because they were pressured to do so by loved ones or the judicial system. As such, male clients will require care that is sensitive to these issues.

  • Treatment often needs to be private, which is always available in varying degrees. Many men do not want others to know they are seeking detox treatment so doctors and nurses may have to reassure them that all their information is completely private.
  • Treatment must also be comfortable and sensitive to the fact that many men did not make the choice to seek care on their own. This may mean allowing for a longer treatment process in order to avoid rushing male patients through the stages of recovery.

SAMHSA states that men in treatment can often be competitive and even aggressive with one another as well as with their caregivers. Treatment providers at detox centers specifically suited for male clients will need to understand and be prepared for this eventuality.

  • Some men will also need help dealing with any dangerously competitive, confrontational, or aggressive behaviors. For this, many detox centers provide anger management classes for patients.

Men are often more reticent to open up to therapists or other caregivers. In this instance, it is important that the treatment facility offers other options.

  • Some facilities may provide other types of therapy as an alternative to talk therapy—such as art therapy—that could allow men to express themselves in different ways.
  • Behavioral therapists and other specialists must also be trained to deal with clients who are reluctant to discuss their substance abuse problems.

Because of the expectations society puts on men, they often feel they must be completely independent or solve their problems themselves.

  • The staff at a detox center may need to help male patients understand that assistance is necessary during withdrawal and recovery. As such, they may also need to stress the fact that the patient is not cured after detox and that he will require further treatment afterward.
  • It is often best for male patients to receive as many options to engage in their treatment process as possible. Doctors should discuss options with male patients and allow them to make as many choices as they can. This can help men feel they are acting independently and making the right choices for their needs, which will make them feel better toward their treatments and recoveries in the long run.

Naturally, these qualities are not true of every male patient, and many men may have other specialized needs that their treatment program must take into account. If you would like to discuss your needs or the needs of a loved one with a treatment advisor, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) today.

Are There All-Male Detox Centers?

Yes, there are detox centers that only provide care to male patients and that focus specifically on the needs of men. This can often be a helpful choice for recovery, although many individuals can function just as easily in a non-gender-specific treatment program.

  • When men are surrounded by other men in detox, they are often able to see the similarities between themselves and the other patients. This can make group therapy easier as well as treatment in general. Many men in male-only detox programs are able to create lasting friendships with other patients, a practice that is highly recommended because social support is so helpful during recovery (NIDA).
  • Men in male-only detox programs often experience a general comfort and ease that men in non-gender-specific treatment programs do not. They may be more likely to open up about themselves in these programs, which can also help lead to higher instances of social support among patients.
  • Overall, these facilities—and their healthcare workers—are particularly sensitive to the needs of men in a way that other programs are not. Male-only treatment centers are also more likely to offer treatment options such as anger management that are specifically associated with men’s needs.

Can Detox Really Help Men Achieve Recovery from Addiction?

Yes, but as stated previously, detox is only the first part of a full treatment regimen and only a very early step in one’s overall recovery. However, programs for detox can often help men open up about their substance abuse issues and recover safely from withdrawal. In addition, these programs help ensure that patients make the transition from detox to rehab.

If you or someone you love could benefit from detox treatment, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) today. We will make sure to answer any questions you may have about men’s addiction issues, recovery, and treatment as well as to match you with a treatment program that will best fit your needs. Call now; your recovery begins today.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Substance Use in Women- Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Substance Use Disorder.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Health Consequences of Drug Misuse- Hormonal Effects.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)- Principles of Effective Treatment.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says- 8: Medical Detoxification.
  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Addressing the Specific Behavioral Health Needs of Men- Treatment Issues for Men.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask- 5. How Do 12-Step or Similar Recovery Programs Fit into Drug Addiction Treatment? 
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