As a field of addiction rehab and recovery treatment, recovery for men has emerged only fairly recently. Substance abuse disorders are more common in men and addiction manifests itself differently between the genders 1. Men and women typically begin using substances for different reasons and at different times in their lives. Men tend to enter treatment later in the course of their addiction than women do, which can affect the type of treatment needed 1.
How Treatment Can Be Targeted for Men
Addiction treatment for men narrows the focus of the treatment program to allow a more precise and individual approach to be given to each patient. A male alcoholic or drug addict will face pressures and challenges unique to his experience and the social pressures that act primarily on those who identify as male. Humans define themselves largely in relation to the expectations of, and their relationships with, the society around them; this means that the expectations and stereotypes society assigns to males can act as destructive barriers to productive recovery for some men.
Many substance addicts survived some form of sexual abuse or exploitation during their youths. While society has at least begun to address the issue of sexual mistreatment of girls and women, it is still distressingly common for men to feel undue shame and guilt over essentially identical events in their own personal histories. This kind of divergence from what is deemed acceptable or normal by a patient’s culture can cause a potentially insurmountable block to psychological recovery. This is especially true if the patient is reluctant to mention such abuse in a mixed-sex group setting.
Men-only recovery centers attempt to get around this impediment by creating a more homogeneous gender dynamic, thereby reducing the perception of judgment and hostility from women that a male patient might feel in a less supportive environment.
Factors to Consider in Male-Specific Treatment
Men who face addiction issues and who need male-oriented treatment plans will find a wealth of inpatient, outpatient and sober living options available to them. Some decisions have to be made early in treatment, such as:
- Location. Should the treatment center be near the individual’s home, making visits from family and friends relatively easy, or would he or she prefer to travel for treatment in order to focus solely on recovery??
- Duration. Will the patient be met by a short-term program of 30 days, or will his or her needs be better met by a longer stay in residential care of 60 days or even 90 days?
- Post-acute care. Does the addict have a productive, generally supportive home to which he may be safely released, or will returning home substantially increase the odds of relapse? Some patients find it necessary to pass through some kind of halfway house or other sober living center after their initial detoxification and inpatient treatment.
- Community. Men seeking treatment for their addictions will face an uphill battle. There is a higher risk of relapse if they re-enter their everyday lives without a strong support system of other recovering addicts. Will a men-only program provide the best opportunity for this particular patient to forge those links, or will the patient fare better in a more heterogeneous group with women as well as men?
Men who face addiction issues and who need male-oriented treatment plans will find a wealth of inpatient, outpatient, and sober living options available to them.
There is not a one-size-fits-all treatment program for addiction. Every individual’s experience will be different, and each treatment solution must be tailored to the individual who is asking for help. False starts and relapses are unfortunately common, and even more common in the absence of a sensitive approach to the person in recovery’s background and special circumstances. Whether you are a man or a woman, teen or senior, help is available to you for your difficulties in handling a problem with drugs or alcohol. Please call today at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to be put in touch with knowledgeable experts who can help you or a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
While addiction is certainly no respecter of gender, age or income level, men face certain special pressures in their recoveries and must overcome barriers unique to their experiences. Recovery for men is no easier than recovery for women, but by learning to address men’s recovery issues in particular, the effort to help male addicts and alcoholics should prove more successful in the long-term.
. Brady, K. T., & Randall, C. L. (1999). Gender differences in substance use disorders. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 22(2), 241-252. Retrieved February 10, 2016.