Does it feel like you’ve gone weeks or months without a single sober interaction with your husband, father or son? Between the happy hours he attends after work to the constant drinking at home in the evenings and on the weekends, your loved one consumes alcohol several times a week, if not daily.
Why? What is driving him to drink to the point that he’s no longer active in his family’s life? What could drive a man to participate in a dangerous behavior that could completely upend everything he’s built and achieved?
When you see your loved one spiral out of control like this, you can’t help but need to know why this is happening. In fact, understanding may be able to help you break through to your loved one and get them the help they need.
Biological Reasons for Why Men Drink So Much
In a 2010 study examining gender differences in alcohol consumption, researchers found that drinking and high-volume alcohol consumption was more prevalent in men than women. What the study didn’t dive into was the reasons why men seem to drink more than women do.
Part of the answer is the physiological differences between men and women. Put simply, men’s bodies are more tolerant of higher amounts of alcohol. This is because:
- Men tend to have lower body fat ratios than women. Since alcohol is stored in body fat, men need to drink more in order to feel the substance’s effects.
- Men’s bodies produce more of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. This enzyme breaks down alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream, so men need to drink more in order to feel the effects.
For better or worse, men’s bodies are able to handle higher doses of alcohol. This may not explain why your husband, father or son started drinking so much in the first place, but it does provide some insight into why he drinks so heavily on a regular basis.
5 Common Motivations that Make Men Drink Heavily
So, why did your loved one begin drinking so much in the first place? And besides the biological factors mentioned above, why has he continued to drink heavily instead of quitting?
Realistically, there are many reasons why your loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse. It’s possible your husband, father or son doesn’t really know why they’re drinking. That’s why it takes an experienced and personalized addiction treatment program to truly get to the bottom of why your loved one is drinking.
However, there are some common reasons why men tend to drink to the extent that they do, even if they know and understand the consequences of their actions:
1. Genetics. Research has come a long way in understanding what leads to alcohol abuse disorder, and at least part of the puzzle is genetics. Science has found specific genes in the human body that contribute to alcoholism. But it doesn’t stop there, brain chemistry can be changed as a result of alcohol abuse. Your loved one starts to lose dopamine receptors which help other parts of the brain regulate self-control. The end result is people who are addicted to alcohol can’t stop even if they want to. Which explains why some men addicted to alcohol continue can’t stop drinking even though it’s become unenjoyable.
2. Decades of Marketing. A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that alcohol advertising increased 400 percent from 1971 to 2011. Alcohol brands know how effective advertising is at creating brand awareness, so they promote commercials showing men drinking and having a good time after work, drinking during sports events and drinking to celebrate after a tough physical workout or other personal accomplishment. Linking alcohol to fun experiences, positive moments and comradery with others attracts target audiences like your loved one.
3. Peer Pressure. It’s common for men to feel pressured to drink from their colleagues, no matter if they’re a first responder or an executive that works in an office. Men who don’t drink may be openly criticized by their colleagues or may quietly receive the reputation for being rigid or a “stick in the mud.” In extreme cases, refusing to drink may even keep your loved one from advancing in his career, or at least make him believe that’s the case.
4. Toxic Masculinity. A consequence of years of ideologies and marketing about how men should behave is the belief that a man needs to be macho, hard, emotionless and tough; If he isn’t these things, he isn’t a man at all. Your loved may have turned to alcohol to help him cope with the stress and pressure of living up to this stereotype. Or, he may feel like he doesn’t have the level of masculinity that he should, so alcohol helps him deal with the shame and embarrassment he feels.
5. Mental Health Challenges. Finally, your loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety. He may have lost a loved one or friend, been struggling with unreasonable expectations at work or maybe depression has been a life-long struggle. Whatever the trigger, your husband, father or son may be using alcohol to relieve their depression symptoms, leading to a dual diagnosis disorder.
This isn’t an all-encompassing list of reasons why men drink heavily, but it does give you somewhere to start as you try to understand what your loved one is going through. While this information may be able to help you put yourself in his shoes and talk to him about what he’s going through, it takes an alcohol addiction treatment program like the one offered at The Raleigh House to truly get to the bottom of his addiction and help him achieve lasting recovery.
Your Loved One’s Recovery from Alcohol Starts at The Raleigh House
Educating yourself about alcohol abuse is your first step in helping your husband, father or son get the treatment that he needs. At The Raleigh House, we have over 10 years of experience treating alcohol addictions just like your loved one’s. We leverage a gold standard continuum of care and take an evidence-based approach to give your loved one the very best chance possible at achieving long-term sobriety.
Start the process today by contacting our admissions team. We’ll ask you questions about your loved one’s background and addiction and give you helpful tools to persuade them to be more open about entering treatment. Your loved one has the potential to rewrite his story, and at The Raleigh House we can give him the support to turn it into a reality.