Men in Recovery: Breaking Down the Barriers to Treatment

Men breaking down the barriers for addiction treatment

Just last year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) noted that men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit substances; despite the growing number of people who classify as having substance use disorders (SUDs), there are yet many who do not seek treatment. Men are at the forefront of this issue in many cases, because of the stigma behind seeking help. Whether it’s you or a loved one who needs treatment, it’s important to break down the barriers surrounding this issue – because many men are experiencing difficulties in not only seeking help but even in opening up once they’re enrolled in a treatment program.

Men-Specific Issues in Recovery

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explained that men experience barriers in nearly all aspects of treatment – from calling and seeking help in finding a job later on. It’s not uncommon for male clients to feel threatened upon beginning the recovery process; after all, our society has placed a strenuous emphasis on masculinity and there’s a direct fear to being perceived as “weak” if help is sought. Men may become overly sensitive on the topic of having a “problem”, and it’s important that healthcare teams try to understand the person as a whole compared to focusing solely on the addiction.

The following are some facts about men-specific issues when it comes to addiction recovery, and these can translate into problematic encounters in treatment as well:

  • Men have higher rates of dependence on illicit drugs
  • Men are more likely to go to emergency rooms or experience overdose deaths from illicit drugs compared to women
  • Men are less likely to identify stigmatization as a barrier to treatment

As an extension to the challenging masculinity expectations that society places on men, there are also many instances of childhood traumatization; in these cases, addiction isn’t the only concern for men – but it’s incredibly difficult to talk about, and many men would prefer to keep it quiet than to work through these issues with a therapist.

The Good Men Project, a movement designed to help men start speaking about the problems they face, explained that men hold their pain close to their chest. When men feel pain, they tend to hold onto it and not speak about it, which can lead to a number of difficult circumstances:

  • Depression
  • Anger problems
  • Addiction
  • Sleeplessness
  • Chronic unhappiness
  • Self-protection and defensiveness

Writer Sean Swaby explained it like this:

“Men everywhere are in pain. I recently attended a men’s group and was reassured that I am not alone. I sat night after night with a group of the bravest men I know, telling stories of their pain. Most men have faced trauma, but we just hold it in and say very little about it.”

Even men who’ve managed to work diligently in recovery will find that it’s hard to obtain employment after treatment; Harvard Medical School acknowledges that in some cases, guilt, shame and embarrassment, alongside workplace stigma, can hold men back from achieving success in the workplace.

With so many men facing difficulties speaking up about the psychological pain they’re going through, how can men specifically be supported in addiction recovery?

Supporting Men in Recovery at Cumberland Heights emphasizes the impact that communication can have in recovery. Therapists and other healthcare professionals can be there to implement healthy coping strategies – and with a team full of people who care and a program full of others who understand it, it becomes easier for men to open up. All-male group therapy, such as the ones provided at Cumberland Heights, assist men in moving from the pain and isolation of the active addiction to a recovery lifestyle.

The men’s program, in particular, is up to 30 days in length and is for men ages 18 and up. The fundamental teachings of the 12-Step program are followed, which provide a clear path for men to work through; there are also a few other all-male programs offered at Cumberland Heights designed specifically to address unique needs to men:

Extended Care Program for Men-Only: this program is up to 180 days in length and can be used to help men who’ve already completed a treatment program but would like something to help them transition to everyday life.

Sober Living Program for Men: this program is a sober living home that encourages participation in aftercare meetings, community involvement and sober activities amongst other men in the program.

Seek Help Today

If you’re ready to take on a program that caters to your unique needs, speak with a professional at Cumberland Heights today. We offer various men-only programs to provide men with a secure environment where they can thrive. Don’t wait any longer to change your life for the better.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.