Life can be hard sometimes and it often takes unexpected twists and turns. Like a lot of Americans, I have experienced my fair share of overdose deaths in my short time here on earth. From childhood friends and even family members, people in my life seem to be struggling with substance abuse now more than ever, but one thing I noticed, the men in my life were struggling more than the women. I found that fascinating.
I remember having talks with guys from college and even into adulthood to see if I could make sense of this all. Why was it not as acceptable for men to seek therapy or treatment as it was for women? Why was there this stigma that it was not “manly” for a man to talk about his feelings or ask for help? We’re all human and in my mind, we all need help at some point in life. Nobody’s perfect.
So I got to thinking, why were the men in my life having such a hard time getting through? I know that women struggle too, but why were the men turning to drugs and alcohol instead of seeking help? I started searching Google for ways to validate what I was feeling or ways to help my friends out and I found out that I am not the only one who has seen this pattern. It turns out, it’s not just something I have noticed, but there are studies and data that back this up. I started digging into all this data I found.
I found that in 2017, over 32,000 men died due to opioid overdoses — that’s twice as many as women. Men were also three times as likely as women to die from a heroin overdose and one in five men report having ongoing health concerns from drug abuse.
According to a study done by American Addiction Centers, only 26 percent of men say that their children are a motivator for them to stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Shouldn’t our children be our number one reason to stop harming ourselves? We should want to be around to see our children hit major life milestones. We should want to be around to walk our daughters down the aisle or to become grandparents and if we continue on the path of destruction, we won’t live long enough to see any of it.
So, what can we do as men to help break this problem and start living better lives? For starters, we need to know that it’s okay to ask for help. Talk to a friend, tell your spouse, tell someone you’re struggling. Seeking treatment is the first step in fixing yourself and realizing all the potential you have. You can’t get help unless you tell someone how you are feeling. Next, I think we need to support each other. Break the stereotype of men not having feelings. Men supporting men is a great thing and can only help us grow as a community. Find a group, whether that be at your gym, joining a club, or starting a new hobby. If you are on the road to recovery, you are more likely to succeed with a solid support system.
Alright men, let’s get our lives together to be better husbands, dads, brothers, uncles, etc. Let’s help the ones we love become better versions of themselves. Let’s support one another. Let’s stop letting men harm their bodies and let’s stop allowing men to be taken away from their families too soon. We all have the potential to help someone struggling, so if someone you know is struggling with addiction, say something. Looking back now, I wish I would’ve spoken up more than I did. Maybe if I would’ve said something sooner, my loved ones would still be here and I wouldn’t be writing this post.
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