There’s no way only women are having issues with it.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
― Brene Brown
Or, to be exact, 6,235 out of a group of 60,000.
That stat staggered me and made me decide I needed to write this article.
This was the percentage of men that were part of a Facebook group focused on sobriety. This group wasn’t focused primarily on women and was led by a man and a woman, but the overwhelming majority of its members were easily female.
This stat was even worse than some of the ones we discovered as we began the marketing efforts for the release of Bamboozled…How Alcohol Lies to Us All.
Click on this link to read a free excerpt from Chapter Two!
During this process, we have been to reaching out to other sobriety authors, Instagram influencers, and podcast hosts to ensure that we are touching all the different audiences that this could help.
As we researched and began this endeavor, I noticed that the stats were also leaning heavily toward women as the majority of either leading or being members of these groups.
It wasn’t too bad for podcast accounts, as it came in around 60%, slightly more than the 50/50 split you might expect. However, regarding the authors of sober-related books and Instagram influencers, the numbers were warped dramatically more at 27% and 15%, respectively.
This led me to do research and analysis that brought me to the conclusion that not only do men need to do a much better job of looking at their drinking versus their female counterparts, but they have much more to lose if they don’t.
What do the stats say?
For those of you who are thinking maybe it’s just possible that females are drinking more than men now, let’s address that.
Admittingly, there was a significant increase in drinking in the female population over the past 20 years, due to the mommy wine culture marketing push from 2000.
However, even with this reality, scientifically, a higher percentage of men (58%) are known to drink than women and at a clip of three times the amount (19 liters for men versus 6.7 liters for women per year).
Could this then just mean that women are the ones who have more of the problem then?
Statistically, a higher percentage of men are prone to binge drinking, get a DUI from drinking, and identify as having AUD (alcohol use disorder) every year than women.
Therefore, something else must be going on that explains why women are much more open to discussing and considering if alcohol is serving them versus men.
What is the reason for this difference?
Why could this be?
Thinking about my own alcohol-conscious journey and various experiences over the past four years, I’ve pared it down to two things holding men back from addressing this issue:
- Men’s reluctance to vulnerability
- Men’s desire to be “manly” men
These two issues are really different sides of the same coin and relate to how society has shaped men to act and think since almost the dawn of time.
I was at a dinner the other night, and one of the guys there was discussing how there was a correct way to do things as a “man” versus how you would do it as a “woman.”
Much of this belief was based on archaic, old-school ways of thinking in which a man was supposed to be strong, stoic, and always able to keep his emotions in check, while a woman was allowed to be a bit more open to talking about her feelings and could be honest about how things were affecting her.
While we would like to think in 2023, this stratification of the male/female persona is no longer what people use to decide how they act and respond to things, the truth is that it is such a part of our learned culture that most men don’t realize they are living up to this indoctrinated stereotype with much of their behavior.
When I stopped drinking and began looking at the different aspects of my life, I noticed that it was really hard for me to have conversations with most guys about my previous drinking habits and how it was affecting me.
Whenever this topic came up with a guy, he would gloss over it and say something like, “good for you for making that decision, but I don’t see myself doing that.”
However, when this topic came up with women, considerably more of them would want to know more about how I was feeling and what really led me to this decision. The difference was generally related to women’s openness to being vulnerable to share their concerns about their drinking and willingness to talk about their emotions and feelings related to it.
It’s only through this type of honesty and vulnerability that someone has a chance to recognize their relationship with alcohol is not serving them and then begin to do the internal, introspective work to address it.
Why is this so important for men to figure this out?
One word: Death
It is statistically known that women outlive men in almost every developed country.
While the science is still a bit murky as to the exact cause of the significant shift to women living longer than males over the past 100 years, the consensus is that much of this is related to medical advantages for the female’s increased longevity and lifestyle choices for the male inability to keep up at the same clip.
Some of these “lifestyle choices” for males are the usual things we would expect, like having more dangerous jobs, eating unhealthy food, and just generally taking bigger risks than women.
However, many of these choices are related to men’s refusal or unwillingness to be vulnerable and honest about things happening in their lives.
Men are 50% more likely to die of heart disease than women, and while some of this is related to the biological advantage women have with estrogen to prevent this, much of it could still be attributed to men’s reluctance to even go to the doctor when something is wrong.
Next, men are less socially connected or have friends as they age versus women. Once again, this could partially be related to being unwilling to truly talk about their feelings or open up to others about the importance of maintaining these relationships as they age. Every day, more research is coming out about how important these social connections are to live a healthy long life.
As a prime example, my friend group changed when I gave up drinking because I couldn’t talk about “real sh*t” with my friends who still drank alcohol in the same manner that I could with my friends who were not drinking.
Lastly, and perhaps most concerning, men commit suicide more often (almost 4x times as much) than women. This is true despite the fact that almost twice as many women are diagnosed with depression as men every year.
As shared above, this is probably not because more women are depressed than men. Instead, it is probably related to men’s refusal to address any potential depression; therefore, there is no documentation of them being registered as such.
And to bring this completely full circle, as it relates to drinking, in one study, men who committed suicide were three times more likely to be substance abusers than women.
All of these stats point to one thing. Men need to talk more about their feelings and open up about the things that are affecting them, instead of using alcohol to cover and mask it as a lot of them do.
And while doing this doesn’t mean that life is going to be peach-sunny for guys who make this decision, at least they’ll give themselves the chance to live much longer and healthier lives if they do.