Injuries and Masculinity Often Lead to Binge Drinking

Men who hold to “traditional” ideas about masculinity and male independence often turn to alcohol when suffering a serious injury, such as mental trauma, spinal chord injuries, or the loss of limbs. By dealing with their injuries in this manner, men that fit this mold have a much harder time living with, and rehabbing, these injuries, a University of Missouri study reports.

A group that best fits this description, according to the study, is injured soldiers that are returning home. Because the “macho man” mentality is ingrained so deeply in many soldiers, when they lose the ability to completely care for themselves due to injury, many turn to alcohol. The study under question aimed to find better ways to treat these types of individuals.

“Newly injured men often face adjustments in the level of personal assistance they require, and this may result in struggles with some aspect of the traditional masculine role, such as a ‘go it alone’ mentality. When three factors – injury, traditional male role and alcohol abuse – occur together, the rehabilitation process may be a challenge. In this study, we examined the combination of all three factors with the aim of better understanding how to treat men with several challenges.,” says lead researcher Dr. Glenn Good.

Dr. Good and colleagues found that “binge drinking” (defined as five or more drinks consumed on a particular occasion) was common in all ages and races that were seriously injured and held to this masculine complex. “The binge drinking is problematic,” says Dr. Good. “Some may drink to suppress their bad feelings about being injured and their perceived loss of masculinity. They may think they are being strong by not seeking help when in fact turning to alcohol could be even more detrimental.”

The conclusion of the study is that for seriously injured men, both veterans and non-veterans, who are likely to hold traditional masculine views, treatment should address the injury and mental state, and the likelihood of turning to substances such as alcohol, in order to best help the patient adjust to their condition. “We have to confront this problem and create interventions that address all of these issues and not just one behavior or problem at a time.”

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Faddis, Jennifer. Good, Glenn. University of Missouri news release. April 2008.