Men in Recovery: What Makes Them More Vulnerable to Addiction

The data on substance abuse and sobriety struggles for men in recovery tell a story of tragic truth. According to those studies, 11.5 percent of males aged 12 or older abuse some form of substance as opposed to the 6.4% of women. Even deeper studies substantiate that 2 to 1 margin of addiction strugglers. But is there an underlying cause of men making up nearly 70% of all addictions? As it turns out there is. 

The fact is, that men have a higher probability of acquiring substance abuse disorders than women. Studies further substantiate there are biological and mental factors that can cause difficulty for men in recovery. Knowing the difference between male and female tendencies can lead you to the source of your struggle. Understanding the vulnerability causes noted below can aid you in determining a successful approach.

Why Are Men in Recovery More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Men in recovery have a higher vulnerability due to several biological factors that produce contrary traits to women. It’s ingrained into their persona in such a way that makes recovery more difficult to achieve. Here are a few behavioral factors that make the road to sobriety harder for men in recovery. 


Whether it’s apprehension toward receiving treatment or just help in general, testosterone produces a more aggressive response. This reluctance can also reflect itself in their interactions, meaning they are less likely to share their struggle. Many men can have a bad habit of bottling up their emotions, problems, and struggles. This self-dependent trait is often passed down from their childhood teachings. Removing the pride-based apprehension toward treatment often removes the biggest stumbling block for men in recovery.

Higher Risk of Relapse

Studies have concluded that men are more susceptible to relapse than women. One study specifically cites a 32% relapse rate in men in contrast to the 22% found in women. The determined likely cause of relapse is suggested to be the degree of commitment to therapy or the lack thereof in men. With a lack of commitment to treatment means a lack of commitment to sobriety. By being an encouragement and support for sobriety in a man’s life, you can immediately increase their recovery likelihood.

Natural Exposure

Men’s higher tendencies toward risky and mischievous behavior make them more likely to be exposed to alcohol and other substances. With risk-taking measures come more substance abuse opportunities. These exposures often lead to unfavorable social bonds that can keep them equally tied to their substance use. A large part of recovery involves removing yourself from these potential exposures, including distancing yourself from such social interactions. This can also be a double-layered hindrance as it is typically harder for men to cut off social interactions than women.

Higher Mental Health Vulnerability

Frequent indulgence of substances can induce mental health conditions. Being more predisposed to addiction tendencies immediately increases the opportunity for addiction-induced mental conditions. On the contrary side of things, the male genetic makeup is naturally more prone to developing mental health conditions. 

While adults of both genders are nearly equally susceptible to mental health, studies have found a considerably higher vulnerability in adolescent males. Considering one can induce or exacerbate the other, these potentially coexisting conditions make addiction that much more dangerous to men. This is also a likely contributor to the fact that suicides among men are more than triple that of suicide rates among women.

Social Tendencies

Studies confirm men are less social than their female counterparts, especially as it pertains to making new relationships. A large reason men in recovery struggle with substance abuse and relapse prevention is because of their social environment. The idea of change, especially in the spectrum of their social comfort zone, is a prospect most men avoid. It is important to remove that “comfort zone” that encourages their addictive behavior. Yet, this adds an extra layer of social difficulty to the already less social gender.

Increased dosage

You would think because it takes higher doses for a man to become addicted that women would be more susceptible. On the contrary, the higher dosage just means a man consumes more to gain the desired result. With increased dosage comes an increased level of dependency. Once substance dependency occurs, that level of dosage is needed to satisfy the addictive craving.

More intense Withdrawal Symptoms

In recovery, men have a more difficult time dealing with magnified withdrawal symptoms. Quitting, especially cold turkey, can take a toll by way of withdrawal symptoms due to the higher tolerance in men. A higher dosage equals worse withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. This can even mean that therapy would require further drugs to help the addicted cope with these withdrawal symptoms. This contributes to the majority of men’s issues in recovery.

Men in Recovery: Breaking the Barriers Of Gender-Specific Treatment

The bottom line to a successful recovery is helping yourself or a loved one understand they have a problem. After that, you can then guide them to see their substance abuse in its true light. Discussing addiction from a heart of sincerity and love without holding back can be the most effective head-on approach. Your natural emotions can be the greatest remedy to helping any man understand the severity of their actions. 

Learn More About How We Can Help You Or a Loved One Recover

Discussing your thoughts, fears, and observations in compassion can help the entire family take that next step toward sobriety achievement. If you or someone you know are struggling with addiction, take that all-important first step of recovery. Take action. Take the plunge and enroll now. Help yourself or the addicted party by helping them help themselves. A caring therapy receptionist is eagerly anticipating your call. We all need help at some point in our lives. There’s no greater support than the company of family and the dedicated professionals at Little Creek Recovery.

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