The following article was produced in partnership with Helm.
We all have our quirks. But while some of us feel guilty about a Friday night Netflix binge, others will happily spend all weekend popping pills at a rave and fail to see the problem.
Everyone is different, and we’re not here to tell you how to live your lives. Everyone (and their partner) has a different tolerance for (and definition of) “problem behaviours.” What might be totally fine at one moment in your life might be a destructive habit in another. That’s up to you to judge, not us.
However, there are some stand out problems which behavioural health services like Helm see causing men issues in their relationships over and over again. These include alcohol, drugs, gambling and repressed emotions (or anger, and the inability to manage it).
Helm knows the impact these problem behaviours can have not just on you, but the people around you, especially your partner. In fact, it’s often that realisation (through your own self-awareness or more likely by your partner calling it out) that triggers people to realise they have a problem and it’s time to do something about it.
Even those men who come to Helm seeking help for their drinking or drug use usually talk about their relationships and recognise their behaviour is contributing to the difficulties they’re having, be they at home, at work or with friends. So, if they address their behaviour, their relationships will improve too.
On that note, in collaboration with Helm, allow us to bring you six ways to deal with your ‘problem behaviours’ like an adult.
See a counsellor
Not to sound glib but… didn’t you hear? Seeing a counsellor is no longer suss. No one is going to cart you off to the asylum. In 2023, everyone’s crazy. And seeing a therapist is a badge of honour. If you want to impress your partner, a date or even your parents, don’t tell them you go to the gym or are working wild hours trying to get a promotion: tell them you see a therapist (and actually see said therapist…). Emotional literacy isn’t lame: it’s what they call a green flag: one of the most attractive assets a guy can have in 2023.
Not only will seeing a counsellor possibly improve your relationship with your partner, friends, and family, but it will also pay dividends in other aspects of your life too. Those things that used to be a struggle (think: going to the gym, finding the motivation to work harder) come a whole lot easier when you are on a good mental plane, and seeing a counsellor or a behavioural health specialist at Helm, who will tailor their approach to work on your issue in a way that suits you, is a great way to get that positive cycle spinning.
As author John Milton said: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Speaking of which: we reckon it’s barking mad how little effort a lot of us guys put into getting our own minds on side – in the same way that you go to the gym to get your body working for you, why don’t you put a little effort into training your brain? Seeing a counsellor is one of the most underrated life hacks there is.
Reassess your relationship with alcohol
Yeah, we went there. And no: we’re not saying you have to quit. But have a good think about how alcohol impacts your life. Is it a celebration for when you’re up, or a crutch for when you’re down? If you feel like the bottle is getting the better of you, you’re not alone. Statistics show that many Australians are willing to do almost anything to improve their health… except quit drinking. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help then. Helm, for instance, has specialists who are trained to help you get your relationship with alcohol back on track.
Not to sound all doom and gloom, but you really do want to quit while you’re ahead: DMARGE spoke with Adrian Dunlop, Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle, recently. Professor Dunlop, who has over 25 years of experience as an addiction clinician, said your brain can get seriously affected by drinking heavily.
“There’s something called alcohol-related brain injury. So, alcohol affects the function of your brain, particularly memory functions, and that’s why old drinkers find it really hard to learn anything new. They can only remember stuff they’ve learnt years and years ago [and] their attention is really poor. [Alcohol-related brain injury,] it’s not very well understood and very underdiagnosed because people don’t know about it.”
Reassess your relationship with drugs
Going on a two day bender isn’t fantastic for your brain. Especially if you’re popping more than Prosecco. Cocaine, for instance, gives you a rush because it triggers the instant release of dopamine in the brain.
However, according to The Department of Health, this rush only lasts fifteen to thirty minutes and that’s when other effects can come into play. Cocaine users can then become extremely agitated, paranoid and aggressive. They could also experience dizziness, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, tremors, headache and heart pain.
Long term, using cocaine regularly can lead to severe depression and something called ‘cocaine psychosis’ – symptoms of which include aggression and disturbing hallucinations like seeing or feeling insects under the skin.
Likewise, ecstasy (also known as MDMA) can cause users to feel euphoric, energetic and confident but also aggressive, paranoid, anxious and irritable. Long term risks of regularly using Ecstasy include permanent damage to your mood regulation and even body temperature, appetite and sex drive.
As for cannabis, this drug can trigger life-long-lasting psychotic symptoms in a person predisposed to psychosis (meaning they have a family history of psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia); even if the person only tries it once.
Even if you’re not one of these people, long term, frequent cannabis use can cause poor concentration, memory loss and learning difficulties. That said, the aforementioned Professor Dunlop mentioned that a study done by health professionals deemed cannabis as the least harmful drug a person (who doesn’t have a psychotic illness) can take.
That said, if you would like to reassess your relationship with any of these drugs (or any other), we highly recommend you head to Helm – a judgement-free zone – where you can talk with a trained Behavioural Health Specialist.
Reassess your relationship with your partner
Do you take them for granted? Are you still investing time and effort into ensuring your relationship is growing? Do you tell them what’s going on in your life? If you favour zoning out on the sofa and watching the latest NBA, EPL, AFL, or Rugby League as opposed to having a deep and meaningful conversation with your partner, you’re not alone. And everyone has different decompression styles.
But if you want your relationship to go the distance you need to put effort into it. Especially if your partner is a loveable, talk your ear off type. Have a chat one day; go on a hike. Get out of your comfort zone. See what comes of it. And if the thought of turning off the footy and having a date night with your partner fills you with fear, hit up the Behavioural Health Specialists at Helm who can help you out, without damning you to hell for your ineptitude (and commitment to footy-watching).
Reassess your relationships with your friends
Many blokes struggle to go beyond surface level conversations with their mates. That’s not to say the love isn’t there (it’s just unspoken, and sometimes it’s beautiful like that), but that it’s hidden. Unfortunately, in a lot of scenarios, that leads some guys to feel like they can’t seek the help they need or open up like they would like to with their mates. This can lead to a whole lot of heart breaking issues, which you’ve likely heard about more than enough times elsewhere (think: depression, loneliness, suicide).
To make sure you’re being the best mate you can be, try and lead with your own vulnerability occasionally in conversations with your mates, and see where it gets you (you might be surprised, and they may open up in return). Conversely, if the thought of telling your mates about something that’s worrying you is still too much, hit up the specialists at Helm, who are always there for a chat.
Reassess your relationship with porn
A lot of men are addicted to porn. But beating your addiction could massively improve your sex life.
As per Medical News Today, porn addiction is “a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function.”
If this sounds like you, DMARGE has spoken with Samantha Jayne, Channel 10’s relationship advisor to The Bachelor all about porn addiction. And she has some great advice to any man struggling with porn addiction.
She said excessive consumption of pornography can alter your brain chemistry, “causing major issues in relationships, reducing confidence levels, increasing anxiety and impairing sexual performance.”
“The overstimulation [brought on by excessive porn consumption] results in a heightened expectation of self-gratification rather than an intense experience of togetherness—and that equals bad sex.”
Samantha adds: “At first porn can appear to be self-soothing and bring about instant gratification. It can be used to mask uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, boredom and used to block out other unwanted emotional feelings and escape from reality, which may seem harmless at first. It’s not.”
To get over your addiction, Samantha advises you: “Replace the old negative bad habit (porn) with something more positive.” This could comprise exercise, meditation, yoga or getting out and spending time with real people.
Another way to get over your porn addiction is to join a community. There are some pretty wacky ones out there (think: the whole ‘no fap’ movement) but there are also some more enlightening ones.
There’s no shortage of porn addiction advice on Instagram and TikTok, but perhaps the best community is Reddit’s /r/pornfree, where men (and women, for that matter) share their trials and tribulations with overcoming porn addiction.
One great analogy shared on /r/pornfree illustrates how difficult it is to overcome porn addiction: “Being a porn addict with a phone and trying to quit is like being a recovering alcoholic who always has a bottle of vodka in his pocket. It’s absolutely insane. No wonder this s*** is so hard.”
If you, too, are struggling with porn addiction and want to talk to someone about it, get in touch with Helm to find a specialist trained to suit your needs.
Helm is a godsend. It provides counselling and other support services designed to fit seamlessly into your hectic modern life. Helm is supportive and understands that when life shifts under your feet, sometimes problem behaviours can trip you up.
Helm is available online and in-person with appointments available now with qualified counsellors, psychologists and social workers. It can be accessed quickly, confidentially and with zero judgement. It’s there to help you take the Helm of your life.