Why Men’s Mental Health Crisis is Amplified by Alcohol and Drugs

Why Men’s Mental Health Crisis is Amplified by Alcohol and Drugs

Music fans were shocked when Keith Flint, front mam of The Prodigy, was found dead, earlier this month. Initial reports showed that the 49-year old singer had hanged himself, after a long battle with alcohol and prescription drugs. The breakdown of Flint’s marriage was said to be a major contributory factor. 

Sadly, this is far from an uncommon event, we also recently saw that Mike Thalassitis from love island has committed suicide too. However this is not just related to celebrities.

Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 35 in the UK (source: Office for National Statistics, 2018). Over three quarters of people who kill themselves in the UK each year are men. The suicide rate is highest in middle aged men (40 to 50 year old age group) accounting for a staggering 24 deaths for every 100,000 of the population.

Campaign groups such as “CALM”, the Campaign Group Against Living Miserably, and the Movember movement (, have pledged to reduce male suicide rates. Both organisations are committed to spreading awareness about male mental health. In the last few years, they have worked with businesses and communities to create support groups and safe spaces where men can talk.

“we’re alarmed by the increasing number of men who take their own lives around the world. We are working to ensure all men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable to reach out to others for support when they’re struggling,” says Paul Villanti, Executive Director of Programmes, at Movember.

Lee Cambule of the mental health charity MIND ( believes that there is still stigma attached to men struggling with mental health issues. “Why is it more difficult for men to address their own mental health?” he asks.

“I’m still faced with some out-dated stereotypes as a man suffering from depression; men as a source of strength, dominating positions of power, the hunter gatherer, the idea that strong and silent is alluring/attractive, the ‘show no weakness’ bravado of heroes in the media”

He maintains that in all of these images, there is little or no room for men to be struggling with poor mental health.

Whatever the role of stereotypes and stigmatisation, there continues to be a barrier to men reaching out for help and support.

adult-art-conceptual-278312-2-400x265 Why Men's Mental Health Crisis is Amplified by Alcohol and Drugs

The Men’s Health Forum, in a 2018 survey, found that 12.5% of the UK male population is suffering from one of the so-called common mental health disorders:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Long-term stress
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders.

Yet the same study found that less than one in five men would seek medical help for a mental health or emotional problem.

The reluctance to come forward and ask for help is borne out by the NHS IAPT initiative.

IAPT stands for “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” and it reports that men are less likely to access psychological therapies.

Only 36% of their referrals (2016-2018) were men.

It seems there is a crisis point in male mental health with too few men able to come forward and ask for help. The teams behind Movember and CALM also acknowledge that men have a greater chance of developing unhealthy coping strategies when facing a mental health problem.

Men are at high risk of using alcohol or drugs to manage a mental health problem.

In the UK, men are three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men compared with 3.3% of women, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre).

Anecdotally, men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs.

Rebecca Sparkes is a London-based psychotherapist, specialising in addiction and depression/anxiety. She says that men are using alcohol and drugs in life-threatening proportions, to deal with mental health problems.

“Most people seeing psychotherapy have experienced some sort of depression,” she says. “This can also manifest as anxiety and is often triggered by work stress or problems in a relationship. While women are typically more comfortable in coming forward and talking about these issues, men often turn to alcohol or drugs.”

Rebecca says: “Not only are there physical health consequences, but any mental health problem is made worse by medication on alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol is a depressant and interrupts sleep, which is vital for mental health.

Most recreational drugs leave users with a ‘come down’ in which anxiety and depression is compounded.”

“While women seem better able to talk about emotional problems with friends and family. Men still seem more likely to ‘bottle it up’ and by that I mean, not talk but to drink and take drugs. See our page on Addiction And Depression.

Paul Villanti agrees: “Men engage in more risky activities that are harmful to their health.

These behaviours are strongly linked to adherence to some harmful aspects of traditional masculinity.

Men often feel pressure to appear strong and stoic and talking about feeling mentally or physically unwell can be perceived as weakness.”

Rebecca says that organisations such as Movember and CALM are doing a very good job in providing male-oriented support groups where men can reach out when they are struggling.

“We still have a long way to do before men are as comfortable talking about mental health as women are in our society. It is only then will we see a significant reduction in male suicide and in the spiralling levels of drug and alcohol abuse in the male population.”

If you are worried about a friend or family member and would like to speak to an expert for free advice and next steps, please contact Help4addiction on 0203 955 7700.


Written by Author: Rebecca Sparkes

Dipesh / 28th March 2019/ Posted in: Latest News

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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.