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Understanding Substance Use Disorder in Men

Many men often find themselves in social situations where they are presented with the option to experiment with substances that can be detrimental to their health. While the ideal response would be to decline, they sometimes yield to peer pressure or the desire to appear cool. Unfortunately, even a one-time experiment can escalate into an addiction to substances such as alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, ultimately resulting in what we call substance use disorder (SUD). In this article, we will delve into this topic to gain a better understanding.

Having an occasional glass of wine every couple of days is generally not a cause for concern. Enjoying drinks at parties or social gatherings is perfectly acceptable, as long as it doesn't devolve into binge drinking and excessive intoxication. When it does, it may signal the presence of substance use disorder, a condition that affects a man's mental and behavioral faculties, leading to an inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs and medications. In this context, substances like alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine also fall under the category of drugs. This condition, commonly known as drug addiction, compels individuals to use these substances even when fully aware of the harm they cause to their bodies.

The journey into drug addiction can commence with experimental or recreational use of these substances in social settings. For others, it may begin with exposure to prescribed medications, eventually leading to substance use disorders. The risk of addiction varies depending on the specific substance in question. Let's explore substance use disorders in greater detail.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

When a man grapples with substance use disorder, several symptoms manifest, including:

  1. Feeling the need to use the drug regularly, daily, or even multiple times a day.

  2. Experiencing intense cravings for the drug that override all other thoughts.

  3. Developing a tolerance requires requiring larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect.

  4. Taking the drug for longer periods or in larger quantities than originally intended.

  5. Ensuring a constant supply of the drug.

  6. Spending money on the drug despite financial constraints.

  7. Neglecting obligations and work responsibilities or reducing social and recreational activities due to drug use.

  8. Persisting in drug use despite recognizing its negative impact on physical and psychological well-being.

  9. Engaging in activities such as theft to obtain the drug.

  10. Participating in risky behaviors, like driving under the influence.

  11. Devoting a significant amount of time to acquiring, using, or recovering from the drug's effects.

  12. Failing in attempts to quit using the drug.

  13. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drug use.

Risk Factors for Substance Use Disorder

Although substance use disorder can affect anyone, certain risk factors make some men more vulnerable to it. Research suggests that genetic factors may contribute to 40% to 60% of an individual's susceptibility to developing SUD. Additionally, several other risk factors include:

  • Experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

  • Exposure to traumatic events.

  • Having family members or peers who use or misuse substances.

  • Easy access to these substances.

  • Co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or personality disorders.

  • Early initiation of substance use.


Substance use disorder has the potential to completely transform and devastate lives. The most effective approach is to steer clear of such substances, be they alcohol or marijuana. Even a single instance of experimentation can lead to drug addiction, especially when it comes to opioid painkillers. Prevention is undoubtedly better than treatment when it comes to drug addiction.

Written by: Deepti Dogra

Edited by: Aniket Joshi

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