The Unique Needs of Men in Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance AbuseAddiction was once known as a “man’s disease”. It was seen as a problem that men had because of their reputation for going to the bar, frequently getting drunk, and getting aggressive or violent.

However, as the field of drug counseling evolves, not only have experts recognized how men and women experience addiction and recovery differently, they have also uncovered more specifically the needs of men in their experience of substance abuse treatment.

For instance, many men struggle with anger and aggression, and this can be particularly true for those men who also struggle with an addiction. In fact, some men might drink to suppress their anger; while at the same time, drinking for some men might exacerbate their anger. Tending to anger and the ability to manage anger should be a part of substance abuse treatment, particularly exploring how the management of anger can help to sustain long-term sobriety.

Unique Needs of Men

Furthermore, men with addictions to methamphetamines or other more addictive drugs can frequently struggle with depression and anxiety during and after substance abuse treatment as their brains adjust to sober living. Yet, depression and even suicide is not just associated with drugs, alcohol too plays a major role in depression for men. Approximately, 10%-15% of those with alcoholism will attempt to take their life. Those who were able to complete a suicide tend to have positive alcohol levels in their blood stream. One population that is at a high risk of both suicide and alcoholism is men who have lost their wives within the last year.

Yet, the greatest advantage of a man’s experience during substance abuse treatment is that he can build relationships with other men who are struggling with the same life concerns. Many men benefit greatly from the social network that naturally form in treatment, especially those treatment programs that cater to men only. They can feel safe to discuss the experiences they’ve faced and concentrate on their sobriety. Having an environment in which men do not need to worry about social approval or the impression they are making on others can facilitate focusing on what’s important during recovery.

Sober Living Home Helps With This

Furthermore, research shows that men who reside at a sober living home, in a structured environment after substance abuse treatment have a greater chance of staying sober. Men who continue to remain in a structured environment after detoxification and residential treatment for at least 30 to 60 days will be more likely to transition back into society without relapse.

Relapse is an experience that can be easily triggered. An addiction has a strong biological component where triggers and cravings for the drug occur almost without notice. Even if an individual has been through treatment and has had some months sober, it’s easy for a small stimuli to trigger an intense craving. Stress from work, relationship concerns with wives, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends can create an strong desire to use. However, substance abuse treatment and participating in a sober living program can create resiliency to relapse and promote sobriety.

Substance AbuseIn fact, that resiliency is demonstrated in recent research written about in the  Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The study found that men in recovery were less likely to return to alcoholism nine years later even when their wives or long-term partners began to have low levels of alcoholism-related problems. Furthermore, the partners of those previously addicted men tended to drink less as the men healed, regardless of the amount those wives drank before the recovery began. Of course, this study has something to say about the role of a loving partner in healing from addiction. There’s no question that a structured men’s substance abuse treatment program can facilitate healing and recovery in men, as well as  healing for the partners of those men, according to this study.

Furthermore, this study demonstrates the effect relationships can have on others. A substance abuse treatment center can put men in touch with a group of peers who have the same types of experiences, which can function as a pseudo family and have long-lasting therapeutic effects. In fact, these therapeutic effects can be so long-lasting that it facilitates sober living.

 

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