Men experience significantly more problems than women in relation to alcohol consumption. But communities like Club Soda often attract more women than men. That’s why we took on the mission to understand the men in our community. And we are sharing our discoveries in a new research report, Taking control: What motivates men to change their drinking?
In Club Soda, we know that decisively moving away from alcohol can be a source of internal conflict for many people. But this seems especially true for men. Ever-present media images of men drinking alcohol, and the preconceived notion that alcohol consumption and masculinity are tied together, contribute to an environment in which it is difficult for many men to speak up.
Alcohol consumption can also contribute to the negative mental health impacts that men experience. According to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately one in eight men in England has a common mental health problem, including anxiety and depression. In addition, The Men’s Health Forum found that while the internet helps men access mental health resources, societal norms still dissuade men from seeking more practical help and guidance. Even when they do so, men are more likely than women to do so at a later stage in their life.
If we want to do more to help men cut down or quit drinking, we need to better understand what is motivating them to make this change, so we can help them take control.
About our research on taking control
We set out to explore the experiences of men who are seeking support to change their drinking. Using onboarding survey data from our How to Drink Mindfully and How to Stop Drinking courses, we looked at the self-reported motivations and intentions of men who are cutting down or stopping drinking alcohol.
Responses from 180 men were included in the analysis from May 2021 to March 2022, all of whom had enrolled on one of our courses and identified themselves as male.
Six reasons for men to change
We wanted to get under the skin of what matters to them when changing their drinking. Our research uncovered six common reasons that men want to rethink their relationship with alcohol. If you are a man who is thinking about changing his drinking, do any of these ring true for you?
1. Regaining control
Gaining or regaining control emerged as a top priority for men in our study. However, gaining control wasn’t just about control over alcohol consumption. Men who talked about being in control reflected the desire to take responsibility for their life and behaviour more generally.
2. Mental health
Many men spoke about their mental health and referred to feelings of low mood, anxiety and exhaustion. If you are aware of needing to change something in your life to relieve these types of feelings, it’s useful to recognise the role that alcohol plays. Alcohol consumption can often contribute to mental health problems, making them worse rather than better.
3. Physical health
Your health may be a physical motivator to change your drinking. Men in the study were aware of the impacts alcohol could have on their physical health, and therefore were pre-emptively reducing their alcohol consumption to reduce these risks. This year’s Men’s Health Week encourages you to give yourself an MOT. We think it’s important to consider the fuel you’re putting in the tank too!
4. Fitness and energy
Some men were motivated to change their drinking by wanting to feel fitter overall and have a happier outlook. Energy can be a big motivation, with productivity being an overarching concern. If you’re feeling sluggish and slow, or struggling with sleep, your alcohol consumption may be a factor contributing to this.
Interpersonal relationships may be indirectly impacted by your alcohol consumption. Many men reported specific relationships with their family and friends, and how they wish to change their behaviour when around them for the better.
6. Saving money
Increased alcohol consumption can hit your wallet, and some men are motivated by the impact of drinking on their finances. This was linked to both the inability to sustain the lifestyle financially, as well as the risks to their continued employment. If you are struggling in this department, making mindful changes to your drinking could help you control your spending.
Support to take control of your drinking
In Club Soda, we are committed to helping more men take control of their relationship with alcohol, and find a way to change that works for them. Whether that be cutting down or quitting completely, there is an approach that’s going to work for you.
Whatever else, our research report shows you that it’s not just you. Many men are discovering the benefits of cutting back on alcohol, taking breaks from drinking or going alcohol-free for the long term. If you want a structured approach to taking control of your relationship with alcohol, our courses are designed to give you the help you need.