For some men, the idea of going to a treatment center is too great of a vulnerable situation. Subjecting themselves in front of others, particularly women, is nightmarish and a stab at their egos. Societal expectations for men to be strong, level-headed, and in control goes down the drain when they have to admit to themselves that they have an addiction problem. Traditional treatment centers might not recognize that a male patient’s refusal to cooperate in the program might stem from male-specific issues.
This is why men should consider men-only treatment programs, which focus on the personal scenarios of the male gaze. It’s not about separating the men from the women, but allowing men to also have a safe place to openly express themselves and their experiences as they begin the pathway to recovery. If you’re a male addict and are not certain if traditional treatment center will provide you a comfortable environment, then perhaps consider these reasons to go to a men-only recovery center:
1. It’s a safe place to have honest communication.
Part of recovery involves having an honest discussion about your addiction, problems in your life, and how you feel about everything going on around you. For true progress, the healing process must start with the issues you identify within yourself. However, society often teaches men to repress their feelings or any admittance to something wrong, posing honest communication as too “feminine” or a sign of weakness.
At a men-only treatment program, any form of toxic masculinity will be broken down. You’ll learn that recognizing a problem and beginning the steps toward a solution makes you stronger, but also isn’t an indication that you were ever weak in the first place. Having emotions means that you are human, not something to be ashamed of. Crying is a cathartic moment in recovery, not a sign that you’re a wimp.
If you keep everything inside of you, then that’s where they’ll stay, forever making you miserable. Addiction is a single person’s battle, but it does not mean it’s a private battle. When you’re open for recovery, then help will come from all directions.
2. You’ll learn how to build relationships.
There’s a large temptation for men to rush into a relationship after going through recovery, but this could lead to their demise when things don’t work out. Romantic relationships—while as thrilling as a high in the beginning—is a cocktail of volatile emotions for recovering addicts in the early stages of sobriety, and if they don’t know how to form and handle healthy relationships, then they are only doomed to suffer an emotional pitfall and relapse.
Learning how to avoid self-sabotage and recognizing healthy, fulfilling relationships is vital in a men-only treatment center. It’s important to learn the difference between love and infatuation, and that in the first year of recovery, the kind of love men should be seeking after stems from their family and friends. Counselors will be available to teach men how to communicate with loved ones, how to recognize imbalances in relationship dynamics, and how to cope with negative emotions. Men must first establish their personal foundations as people before building relationships with others.
3. They’ll teach you healthy coping mechanisms.
Life is hard and too often substance abusers use their vices as a form of self-medication for all the negativity in their life. Whether you’re drinking your problems away or shooting up to relax after a stressful day, these coping mechanisms are destructive and detrimental. Yet, at traditional treatment centers, methods to overcome these habits might not consider the barriers that come with the male perspective.
While voicing anger or depression each time it’s experienced might help some people (it can help build assertiveness in women, for instance), for others this is a shaky method that can result in regret and severe consequences, like arrest. Men-only programs hone in on the root of a man’s specific psychology when experiencing anger, depression, and stress. Healthy coping methods are based around the man’s personal conflict so that he can use negativity as an opportunity to grow, rather than an excuse to misuse substances.
4. You might discover a psychological issue that needs to be treated.
Men often only go to substance abuse recovery groups to solve their addiction problems without ever considering that they might also be suffering from a psychological disorder, such as depression and anxiety. This is the exact opposite for women, who normally look into psychological treatment and are then referred to a rehab center for their addiction, thus allowing the recovery process to focus on all their needs. When men neglect the notion that there could be a mental problem hindering their recovery from addiction, the chances for relapse or overdose grows higher.
Allowing their mental illness to go unreported sets them up for failure and, in tragic cases, their death. Men die by suicide 3.5 more times than women. White males in particularly accounted for 7 out 10 suicides in 2014, with middle-aged white men marking the highest suicide rate in the United States. Addiction for many men is merely the first battle to mental health recovery, which can be recognized in a men-only treatment program, which will provide the resources and observation necessary to diagnose and treat any mental needs a male patient might have.
5. It’s time you get some emotional awareness.
Men are not raised to have emotional awareness, yet this plays a necessary role in recovery. In order to achieve honest communication in group therapy for men, men need to learn how to recognize their emotions and be able to express them in a dialogue. This goes beyond undoing the societal damage done towards men by telling them to deal with their issues privately or to neglect certain emotions altogether. At men-only programs, men will have to learn how to deal with grief, with sadness, with any existential crisis they might have—all the unfortunate moments of life.
By being able to recognize and interpret their emotions, men can grow and change their mentalities as to eliminate the mental dependence that comes with addiction. It’s time to stop hiding from their darkest truths and face them. Sobriety is the pathway to discovering who you are.
6. You’ll find guidance on men’s issues, like trauma and sexuality.
Many substance abusers have survived some form of trauma, sexual abuse, or exploitation in their life, but have chosen not to discuss their situation with anyone. Society has only just begun to open the dialogue for sexual abuse and trauma for women, but for men it is still largely regarded as a taboo topic to mention, let alone admit to suffering from.
Men-only recovery centers attempt to provide a safe place for men to open up about their traumas and abuse without feeling ashamed or judged, which might prove difficult in a mixed-gender support group. Some men have a perception of judgment and hostility from women when it comes to sexual abuse and then question whether their experiences are as valid, leading them to keep quiet about their internal struggles. In a homogenous gender dynamic, male survivors might feel more comfortable in this supportive environment and will be able to participate in a dialogue about their experiences and sexuality.
Addiction is more often a surface problem for men, so when they can tackle the root of their substance, recovery can begin. Detox the mind along with the body.
7. If you ask for help, you’ll get it.
It’s time to stop private battles. There is no need to suffer alone with your addiction when there are support groups ready to lend out a hand. In a men-only recovery group, there will be men with like experiences, thoughts, and questions. Medical professionals will have the resources to help you through the detoxification process, therapy groups and sessions, and healthy mental lifestyles.
Asking for help can open doors to recovery. There will always be a hand reaching out to you if you look up at the possibilities. You are not weak. You are not alone. What you are is one step away from being the strongest man in the world.