Drugs and alcohol – top men’s issues

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs and alcohol are top men’s issues.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Men’s Issues.

The use and misuse of substances, drugs, and alcohol, is the number one issue for most men who come to counseling.

Traditional counseling with its emphasis on feelings and learning to communicate has let a lot of men down. Even when we have talked about gender-specific counseling strategies, gender mostly meant women. Men got left out. That is beginning to change.

What brings men to counseling.

Most men do not come to counseling willingly. Usually, they are forced, by the legal system, by their spouses and partners, or because they are out of work and required to do something to get further assistance.

Furthermore when men get to the therapy room most often they experience a woman professional whose focus is on telling them that what they have learned about their role as a man is wrong and that to be mentally healthy they need to think and act more like a woman.

Men get the bulk of their counseling these days in prisons and drug rehabs.

Drugs and alcohol permeate men’s lives, their experiences of what it means to be a man, and the way in which drug and alcohol use has interacted with the other parts of their lives. Here are some reasons men develop poor relationships with drugs and alcohol.

Men often begin to use and abuse substances at an earlier age than women.

They are often introduced to substances by an older male family member or a close male friend. Women, you need time to catch up. Women commonly get shown how to use substances by a boyfriend.

This early use results in gaps in men’s learning. You don’t remember all the things you did, let alone the things that happened when you were drunk. Lots of men fail in school because they were just too stoned to pay attention in class.

If you don’t learn skills as a teen you may need to go back and learn them when you get out of prison.

Men learn and are taught “real men” consume large quantities of substances.

Sorry guys, there are no supermen or men of steel among us. Even professional athletes get hurt. Real men do feel pain. The fact that we guys do not go to treatment for physical or psychological traumas results in men living fewer years and dying younger than their women companions.

Early and heavy use of substances, alcohol is especially implicated here, result in more illegal activities and send many men to jail or prison.

No, just drinking alcohol does not make you commit a crime, but most men who go to jail were drunk or high when they did that crime. Remember that alcohol shuts off the part of the brain that tells you “Hey stupid, don’t do that!”

Still, the myth that real men drink a lot and then do amazing feats of strength persists.

The majority of people with co-occurring disorders are men.

Men try to keep up this facade of invincibility right up to the grave. Men with mental health problems do not go for treatment. Mostly they use drugs and alcohol to cope with their mental illness and then end up in jail or prison.

The textbooks say that mental illness is more common in women than men. I do not believe that. I think those books are wrong. Women get counted as mentally ill because they get referred to outpatient clinics for treatment and they get counted there.

Men end up in prison and their diagnosis? They get labeled anti-social and told the problem is they are criminals. The result they keep trying to get well without accessing treatment.

Men are the homeless.

See pictures of homeless women on T. V.? The truth is that 80% of the homeless are men, men with a mental illness and a substance abuse problem mostly.

No, the homeless do not choose to be homeless. That is the lie that those with good-paying jobs tell themselves so they do not have to worry about it happening to them.

Most homeless men have substance abuse problems. If you had to live like that you might abuse something to cope. They also have mental illnesses. They may not want to take jobs; they may be so demoralized they do not think they could work if they got one. But no, they do not like going to the bathroom outside or staying in the shade under the bridge all day in the over one hundred degree weather.

Most of the homeless would love to have a place to stay. They just do not see how they can get one.

The reason these men stay homeless? They keep wrestling with that bottle or pipe believing that they should be able to control that substance. They think the drug is their crutch, but it is their controller.

The reasons men start and continue to drink and use are different from women’s.

Women use substances for fun or because they have suffered a trauma and they want to forget. Men use and drink because they have to, are expected to. If you can’t drink a lot you might as well turn in your membership card in the man club right now. That’s what men were taught. This is not true.

There are real men, strong, effective, and successful men who do not drink and do not do drugs. This notion that real men can hold their liquor, that is a fable. Eventually, everyone’s liver gets old and your tolerance declines. The amount you used to be able to do with no problem now gets you in trouble. Most real men eventually give it up.

We need to wrap this one up. I have painted a very bleak picture here, addicted, alcoholic homeless men. These are not the only men with a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse is a major men’s problem, even when that man looks perfectly normal. Drug addiction and alcoholism is also a women’s problem, though it affects women differently. For a long time, we only had special programs for women substance abusers. We now see both genders need help with this problem, so do children.

Turns out that this pesky weed, substance abuse, is involved with almost every social problem we are willing to look at honestly.

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Career setbacks and unemployment are top men’s issues

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Filling out a job application

Job application.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being out of work can bring a man to his knees.

Lots of men have had to face the harsh reality that they are no longer the “great provider” they thought they would be.

Among all the issues that bring men to counseling being out of work and unable to provide for their family in the way they are used to providing tops the list.

For more on other men’s issues see the post Top 10 Men’s Issues here on counselorssoapbox.com

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Top 10 Men’s Issues

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Men drinking

Drugs and alcohol are top men’s issues.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What are Men’s issues and how are they different from the other issues that bring clients to counseling?

Men have issues. We are not talking about back copies of the swimsuit issues either. Men traditionally have avoided coming to counseling for those issues even when they really could have used some help. Men try to tough it out and cope without asking for help. That reluctance to come to see a counselor is changing. The result of this trend has been an increase in counselors who specialize in “Men’s issues.”

Men will spend thousands on a career counselor or a life coach to help them with jobs or business success but when it comes to relationships, children, and their own happiness and well-being, they have been slow to accept the need for assistance.

When I started in this profession, I was surprised to see relatively few men in the classes with me. There were few men counselors and very few men in treatment. The few men who did come to see a counselor were referred to treatment by a judge, parole, or probation.

When I worked as a substance abuse counselor there were lots of men. They predominate in treatment and in the profession when it comes to substance abuse, domestic violence, drunk driving, and similar issues. When it comes to social work or the therapy room the men disappear on both sides of the desk. Among clients, this is beginning to change as men realize the need for more resources in managing life’s problems.

Men report to me that they have felt like their role in the family was that of a prepaid debit card. They go out and make money which is placed at the disposal of their family. If they fail to earn enough they are likely to be discarded like a maxed-out credit card. Beyond the simple maintenance of their most basic needs, food, sex, and a few expensive toys, men were conditioned to think that they should not have feelings or weaknesses.

For a man to ask for help implies accepting failure. Men kept going even when injured emotionally until they could not keep going. The homeless veterans of past wars, tortured by the symptoms of PTSD, are a testimony to the way in which men that showed a weakness can be discarded. To ask for help with an emotion was tantamount to accepting failure.

This situation is changing and for good reason. Men are learning that to acknowledge feelings is not a sign of failure. To seek consultation for struggles with life’s problems is not weakness but wisdom.

More men than ever before are assuming the role of primary custodians of their children. They are moving into the areas of childrearing that once were the exclusive territory of women. Methamphetamine and other drug addiction have accelerated this trend as more women leave their children and run the streets. Some men step up and become Mr. Mom and Dad.

Men come to counseling for information on being a good parent. They want to know how to raise happy children and they want to know how to experience this happiness after the loss of their illusion that all they needed to do to make things come out right was to earn more money.

The major “men’s issues” continue to be the traditional issues of men forced to treatment by someone else with some new issues brought on by the changes in the American family and society.

The top “men’s issues” in my practice are:

1. Career

2. Achieving success

3. Fatherhood

4. Single parenthood

5. Maintain relationships with children after divorce or separation

6.  Getting close and trusting others

7. Substance abuse

8. Anger management

9. Male sexual issues

10. Trauma

These Top Ten Men’s Issues have a lot in common with issues that bring women to therapy. The largest differences I see in the experiences are that women are a lot more attuned to the idea of working with and paying attention to their feelings. Women are schooled in expressing their feelings as a way to get relief from unpleasant experiences. Men tend to ignore feelings until overwhelm by them.

Men come to counseling looking to find solutions to their problems. What they may discover is that feelings are a valuable source of information that they will need to use to find the solution that is right for them and their relationships.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

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As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel