While alcohol can be seen as a recreational substance that is often celebrated in today’s culture, habitual use might turn into a disorder that can be extremely detrimental to one’s health. Research shows that men consume more alcohol and experience more alcohol-related harms compared to women, making men particularly vulnerable to the development of substance use disorders, such as addiction.
It is important to recognize why these trends remain prevalent and what factors can contribute to the increased risk of the development of addiction for men.
Prevalence of Alcohol Use Among Younger Men
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant risks to men’s health and safety. Those risks increase alongside the quantity of alcohol consumed. The CDC also found that:
- Almost 59% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days compared with 47% of adult women.
- Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women.
- Approximately 22% of men report binge drinking and on average do so five times per month, consuming eight drinks per binge.
- In 2019, 7% of men had an alcohol use disorder compared with 4% of women.
Many men start drinking at a younger age, notably after high school or in college, or as they are entering the workforce for the first time. There is a greater chance these young men might start excessively drinking when faced with the growing pressures of work, coursework, or even the college “party scenes” that are all too familiar in modern-day society.
What Is Binge Drinking?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. This pattern corresponds to having four or more drinks for women, or five or more drinks for men in about two hours’ time. As mentioned earlier, men often develop a higher tolerance to alcohol than women, which can lead to a greater chance of partaking in binge drinking.
It is no secret that excessive alcohol use can negatively impact one’s health, and it can even be deadly. Some of the consequences of binge drinking can include a compromised immune system, liver and other chronic diseases, and an increased risk of several types of cancers. Mental conditions like anxiety and depression can appear or be worsened with chronic alcohol use. Binge drinking can also lead to legal troubles as there is a higher chance of obtaining a DUI and causing fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Risk Factors Unique to Men
Young men in college or entering the workforce for the first time may feel extreme societal pressure to work hard and be successful. There is also a huge stigma in society that says men have to be the “breadwinner” and take on the responsibility of taking care of their spouse, children, and loved ones. The stress associated with societal pressures such as these can be a catalyst that can lead young men to drink. It might “take the edge off” at first, but excessive drinking and alcohol use disorder can come along with dire consequences.
Oftentimes substance use disorders can be passed down genetically from within the family, and people who suffer from mental health issues also run a higher risk of abusing substances as a means of self-medicating. Alcohol consumption is heavily connected to the release of dopamine in the body, which plays a role in the production of pleasure and good feelings. Studies suggest that dopamine, one of the body’s neurotransmitters, may be produced in larger quantities in men than in women when drinking alcohol.
When to Seek Help
When an individual recognizes that they need help, it is important to recognize that this is the first part of the addiction treatment process. Awareness of the problem can take time, but once an individual has hit that first step, they can congratulate themselves on the progress they have already made. It might not seem easy to reach out for help, but there are many different alcohol treatment options that are available for those struggling. Recovery is possible.
If an individual is feeling like their alcohol use is negatively affecting their life, it might be time to seek treatment. Some specific signs that it might be time to start getting necessary help include:
- Financial struggles
- Health issues
- Interference with everyday responsibilities
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms when no longer using alcohol
- Legal troubles stemming from alcohol use
Some common treatment options might include inpatient alcohol rehab, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). The type of care a person seeks should be individualized and tailored to their unique needs.
Statistics show that excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder is twice as likely to occur in men than in women. Patterns like binge drinking, combined with environmental and biological factors, can contribute to the reason for this difference. Many men start drinking at a younger age as they go through big life changes like living on their own for the first time, college coursework, or entering the workforce. These big changes, along with the pressure to be successful, can cause young men to start drinking more excessively or partake in binge drinking. Lighthouse Recovery Texas is a comprehensive addiction treatment facility that specializes in helping individuals heal from the consequences of substance use. We offer a variety of different treatment programs to help individualize client care. For a free assessment and more information, call us today at (214) 717-5884.