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Why Are Men More Likely To Turn to Substance Abuse?

For far too long, substance abuse has been a growing problem for many individuals throughout the world. Additionally, men tend to be more likely than women to turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with life’s challenges and struggles.  

It is important to understand why this is the case in order to bring greater awareness to the issue. By learning about the specific challenges men face with Drug and Substance Abuse Disorders and other Mental Health Conditions, Licensed Clinical Psychologists and their clients can address these issues more effectively. This, in turn, makes it easier for men to seek therapy and overcome symptoms of Alcohol Addiction and other Substance Abuse Disorders. Learn more about why men are more likely to turn to substance abuse and how it affects their journey to recovery. 

Risk-Taking Behaviors 

In exploring the factors behind men’s higher likelihood of turning to substance abuse, one key aspect to consider is their propensity for risk-taking behavior. Men, as a general trend, tend to exhibit a greater inclination toward taking risks compared to women. On the other hand, women often display a more cautious approach, considering potential dangers and consequences before engaging in risky behavior.  

This disparity in risk-taking tendencies between genders can shed some light on why men may be more susceptible to Drug and Substance Abuse Disorders. In addition to being more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, men are also more likely to expose themselves to environments and situations conducive to substance abuse. This also leads to an increased likelihood of turning to such substances.  

Gender Roles and Social Stigma 

Women face greater stigma when it comes to substance use, including both legal and illegal substances. For example, traditional gender roles see beer and hard liquor as masculine drinks. Going to the bar with friends has, historically, been a more common pastime for men than women. As a result, society generally sees heavy drinking and drug use as more acceptable for men than it is for women. 

Similarly, men are less likely to see substance use as a negative behavior. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to face internal or societal judgment for drinking or using drugs because it contradicts women’s traditional role of being a family caregiver. 


Stereotypical gender roles and their resulting social stigma also affect the availability of drugs and alcohol among men and women. Because society sees substance use as more acceptable among men, it is typically easier for men to access alcohol, drugs, and other illicit substances. This might be from peer groups, social events such as parties or sporting events, or other sources.  

Furthermore, men are more likely to introduce both men and women to illicit substances. This is true from a young age, where teenage boys and girls are more likely to try alcohol or drugs for the first time because of a male peer. 

Masculinity and Peer Pressure 

While both men and women can experience the influence of peer pressure, men are more likely to encounter it in the context of illicit substances. In particular, male friend groups play a significant role in introducing men to substance use. This dynamic emphasizes the strong influence that men can have on each other, shaping their attitudes and behaviors toward substance abuse. 

For men, the pressure to conform to societal expectations of masculinity can further complicate the issue. The desire to fit in and avoid potential social backlash may lead men to engage in substance use, even if they personally wish to abstain. This societal construct places a heavy burden on men, as they navigate the delicate balance between their own values and the pressures imposed upon them by their peers. 

Externalized Emotions and Negative Behaviors 

Another reason why men are more likely to turn to substance abuse is their tendency to externalize their emotions, particularly negative ones. Men often express their negative emotions in ways that lead to outward negative behaviors, such as aggression, impulsivity, and coerciveness. The outward aggression and impulsivity associated with these negative behaviors increase the risk of engaging in dangerous habits like reckless driving, aggressive arguing, fighting, and substance abuse. 

Understanding the link between externalized emotions and negative behaviors provides insight into why men may be more susceptible to substance abuse. By addressing the root causes of these negative behaviors and promoting healthier coping mechanisms for expressing emotions, we can work toward preventing substance abuse among men.  

Comorbid Disorders 

Substance Abuse Disorders often stem from maladaptive coping behaviors associated with various Mental Health Disorders. Among these disorders, conditions like PTSD and Depressive Disorders are relatively common among men and can contribute to the development of Alcohol Addiction, Drug Abuse, and other Substance Abuse Disorders.  

While both men and women experience maladaptive coping behaviors and the possibility of comorbid substance abuse, men tend to turn to substance abuse more frequently than women. This could be because of reasons mentioned above, including greater availability of illicit substances, less social stigma around substance use, and a greater tendency toward externalized and aggressive behaviors. 

Social Barriers to Professional Help 

There are many reasons why men might develop a Substance Abuse Disorder, but it is also important to discuss the challenges men face in treating such disorders. One significant barrier is the stigma associated with men seeking professional help for their addiction or any comorbid disorders. This stigma creates a societal expectation for men to handle their issues independently, which can discourage them from reaching out to a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Consequently, men are less likely to start therapy to address their addictions or any other underlying Mental Health Conditions.  

Recognizing and addressing these social barriers is essential to breaking down the stigma and facilitating greater access to professional help for men. By promoting a culture of acceptance and support, we can encourage men to seek the assistance they need to overcome substance abuse and improve their overall well-being.  

Treating Addiction and Comorbid Disorders Among Men 

Evidence-based therapy is the key to addressing Substance Abuse Disorders and their causes. At Blair Wellness Group, our team is dedicated to helping men find strength, healing, and a way forward in the wake of Mental Health Disorders. We offer concierge-style treatment plans to work closely with men to overcome the challenges of substance abuse.  

Dr. Blair is also an experienced Depression Psychologist who can help you navigate the underlying causes of Depression and other comorbid disorders. Find the professional help you need when you book an appointment with Blair Wellness Group today. 

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