Men, Drinking, and Drugs

Drug or alcohol use can cause problems for anyone. Men face some special dangers, including strong social pressure to use alcohol or other drugs, and certain health hazards. Knowing about these issues can help you to make wise choices about your own health and contribute to a happy family and social life.

Peer Pressure

Your decisions about whether or not to drink or to take drugs probably have a lot to do with the attitudes and opinions of your friends and co-workers. How much you take, and when, may also be affected by their ways of doing things.

Why are men particularly encouraged to drink or take drugs? Some people think that drinking or drug use proves how much of a man one is. Men are often brought up to be tough and unemotional. Drug use lets some men relax from this pressure. Drinking in order to "lighten up" business luncheons, to help them socialize comfortably or to let out pent-up emotions in a socially acceptable way is often encouraged.

Effects of Abuse

Drug abuse has many harmful effects. Health risks increase for heart disease, cancer, and mental illness, and even death or coma from overdose. Drug use may decrease the levels of testosterone in a man's body, which affects sexual desire and performance. Because drugs often lower a man's inhibitions and dull his thinking, he may not notice this at first. Some drugs also cause a man to produce fewer sperm (or abnormal sperm), making it more difficult to conceive healthy children.

One's work life can also be affected by heavy drug or alcohol use. You might have work-related accidents, be less productive or get called on the carpet for being late from too many Monday-morning hangovers.

If you have a family, their love, trust and respect are probably very important to you. Drug use can interfere with this if it causes you to act in ways that embarrass or hurt your family. Hurts can be physical as well as emotional. Some men become violent when they are "under the influence," while others may cause auto crashes that can injure or even kill people.

Steps You Can Take

As a man, you can make choices about drug use that will improve your life and the lives of your loved ones and friends. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don't let yourself be pushed into taking drinks or drugs that you don't want.
  • If you plan to become a father, don't use drugs.
  • If you host a party, don't push your guests to drink. Make sure that, if you serve alcohol, you also offer soft drinks and food. Help conversations along by making introductions, giving compliments, telling a joke or two. Don't just tend bar. And if someone does get loaded, don't let them drive. Instead, call a cab or offer them a bed or a ride home.
  • If you have a hard time controlling your drug use, seek help from 12-step programs or health professionals who are knowledgeable about chemical dependencies. Ask your employee assistance program for a referral.

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