Drug Abuse Rises in Midlife
By John Teng
The mid-life crisis; these are terrifying words that are equated with divorce, overspending, and depression. It is also known as a time when men destroy their life for material things and give up the good things in life, becoming extremely selfish. However, something else has been on the rise with middle aged men, something much more concerning than flashy cars, weird clothes, or even divorce… drug use.
What Is a Mid-Life Crisis?
Before you learn about what impacts a mid-life crisis you first need to know what a mid-life crisis actually is. A mid-life crisis often happens in men who are between the ages of 40 and 60. This is a time in their life when their bodies are not what they used to be, they have a decreased libido, and they have become very uncomfortable in their lives. During a mid-life crisis, many men begin to find a new, sometimes crazy, sense of fashion, buy what they want, regardless of price, become unsatisfied with their marriages, and often become depressed. This can lead to divorce, serious debt, and the loss of a good life due to poor decisions. The mid- life crisis is all about trying to get a quick fix because you feel trapped or unsatisfied.
What Is Considered A Drug?
Any kind of substance you use that is not prescribed to you in order to make you feel “good” is a drug. From illicit substances like cocaine and heroin to prescription drugs like anti-depressants and blood pressure medication can all be abused. Even alcohol can be considered a mind altering drug if you cross the line into alcoholism.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) drug and alcohol abuse in middle aged men is growing at a rapid rate. Approximately 62,000 men die of alcohol related issues every year and more than half of children live with at least one parent who has a problem with alcohol. When it comes to drugs, The National Drug Control Agency says that in Washington D.C alone, there were nearly 76 drug related deaths in men between the ages of 35 and 60 (the prime age of mid-life crisis), while there were only 12 deaths in men and woman 21-34. The deaths in the 35 to 60 age range deaths have gone up significantly since 2003 when there was almost less than half of these. So, why is this?
Is There A Correlation Between Mid Life Crisis and Drug Abuse?
The statistics make it seem almost certain; there is some sort of connection between the age of mid-life crisis and drug abuse. When a man enters a mid-life crisis, they feel depressed and unsatisfied; they are looking for a quick and easy fix. This is why they dump things from their old life, such as wives and children, to pursue temporary pleasure such as one night stands or flashy accessories. This is also why many married men have affairs; it is a rush of adrenaline and a quick fix for their needs. Drugs can provide the same type of “relief” that these men are looking for. Yes, some men may be able to try something and not do it again, but for many, one time is enough to get addicted. They become addicted to the high and to the way they can escape their problems when they use.
Beyond a quick fix, drugs also seem dangerous and rebellious, the kinds of activities that draw in men experiencing a mid-life crisis. The thrill that drugs give and the feeling of rebellion is also what gets teenagers hooked. The feel good effects of the drugs themselves, plus the feelings of “getting away with something” only make drugs that more appealing to those trying to change themselves and add more excitement to their lives.
How Do I Stop?
If you are struggling from addiction because of a mid-life crisis, there is hope for you. Find an addiction therapist who can relate to you and really begin to dig deep as to why you feel you need drugs and/or alcohol. They can also help coach you through other aspects of your mid-life crisis. Remember you are not alone, and you can be helped.
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