Men and Addiction: Differences, Contributing Factors, Effects, and Recovery

Due to biological, societal, and environmental factors, men struggle with addiction at increased rates, with almost 12% of men versus 6.4% of women experiencing a substance abuse disorder (SUD). Below, explore some of the differences between men and women in their use of specific substances.

  • Alcohol: Men abuse alcohol at higher rates, with 20% of men reporting having an alcohol use disorder (SUD) compared to 12% of women. 
  • Marijuana: Marijuana use is more prevalent in men than women, with men being three times more likely to use marijuana daily. 
  • Opioids: Men are also more prone to the fatal consequences of opioid abuse than women, accounting for two-thirds of all opioid deaths in 2016.
  • Stimulants: The motivators for stimulant use differ between men and women. Men are more likely to abuse cocaine and meth for enjoyment purposes, while women typically use stimulants to increase their energy and promote weight loss. 


Common characteristics of the lived experience of men may influence their development of SUDs, such as: 

  • Biological make-up: On average men have more testosterone and larger bodies than women. Testosterone has been linked to impulsive decision-making, while larger bodies tend to require more of a substance to feel the effect.
  • Cultural conditioning: Inaccurate societal narratives around what it means to be a man may promote the heavy use of drugs and alcohol as a way to engage with their peers and participate in social rites of passage. Additionally, men may turn to substances to numb and cope with their feelings in response to harmful and misleading cultural standards that men should be stoic, strong, and emotionless. 
  • Reluctancy to seek help: When they’re struggling, men sometimes believe they should “suck it up” or “solve their own problems,” potentially causing them to avoid obtaining treatment for addiction.


Men struggling with addiction may face an increased risk for:

  • Work-related issues: Excessive drug and alcohol use can lead to accidents while working and decreased productivity.
  • Chronic illness: Addiction can lead to heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and even death.
  • Hormone disruption: Substance abuse can lead to decreased testosterone levels and sperm production, which can cause low sexual desire, inhibited sexual performance, and conception risks.
  • Detrimental behavior: Addiction can lead to behavior that causes injuries, car accidents, violence, and even death. 


At Wasatch Crest, men and women can heal from addiction on our seven-acre mountainside campus. We offer a welcoming, non-judgemental space with compassionate clinicians and staff, many of whom are in recovery themselves. Our levels of care span residential, gender-specific transitional living, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs. Reach out to learn more about our addiction treatment programs in Heber City, UT. 

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