Divorced Men Have Increased Rates Of Substance Abuse

The Journal of Men’s Health published an article called The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health.

The information used to compile the article was taken from the results of a study conducted by the International Society of Men’s Health, the ISMH. The research, lead by the president of the ISMH, Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, found that divorce negatively impacts the medical and mental health of men.

5More specifically, men who go through a divorce:

  • Have higher rates of mortality, up to 250% higher, than married men,
  • Are more likely to have substance abuse disorders than married men,
  • Express symptoms of depression more often and more severely than married men,
  • Have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke than married men,
  • Are more prone to illness overall, in the form of anything from a common cold or flu up to cancer and heart attacks, than married men,
  • More often partake in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, and sexual encounters, than married men,
  • Have a 39% higher likelihood of suicide than married men, and
  • Undergo psychiatric care 10 times more frequently than married men.

Why Are Divorced Men Struggling So Much More Than Married Men?

Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh believes a big part of the influence is our current culture. In the press release announcing the article’s publication, Dr. Shabsigh shared his opinion on why divorced men are experiencing more difficulty in physical and mental health than married men:

“Popular perception, and many cultures as well as the media present men as tough, resilient, and less vulnerable to psychological trauma than women. However, this article serves as a warning signal not to follow such unfounded perceptions.

6The fact is that men get affected substantially by psychological trauma and negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, war, and bereavement. Research is urgently needed to investigate the prevalence and impact of such effects and to develop diagnosis and treatment guidelines for practitioners.”

While the article’s information is shining new light on the topic, this doctor recognizes the need for further investigation so that intervention and treatment can help divorced men.

Substance Abuse After a Divorce

Many of the health problems that divorced men are experiencing stem from the increased propensity for drinking and using drugs. Without daily responsibilities other than work to hold a man accountable, divorced men seem to have less structure, less reasons to behave as he did before, and less desire keep himself composed.

A few beers after work can turn into an all-night event because he no longer has a wife, or family, to go home to, which may have been what kept his drinking habits regulated. A new friend has some marijuana or some cocaine, and this divorced man may not be able to find a good reason not to partake.

Since addiction and alcoholism are progressive in nature, the use of mind-altering substances can quickly advance from recreational to abuse and to dependency, which is addiction. As more research is conducted, substance abuse professionals can gather more information on how to best help divorced men achieve and sustain abstinence from substances, and reduce the chances of early mortality and major life and health complications.

Kate Green is an addiciton recovery specialist, learn more about her work helping out in the men’s only addiction treatment center at Balboa Horizons.

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