In the early stages of addiction, men face several barriers and obstacles that keep them from getting the help they need. The cultural expectations of our society have forced men to assume the role of being strong, fearless, and in control. This mindset produces the ideology that “being a man” means you never need help, never have problems, and admitting either is a sign of weakness. As a result, masculinity has become synonymous with ignoring or denying pain, trauma, and addiction.1
Amid all these unrealistic expectations, it’s no surprise that men often have a difficult time asking for help and seeking treatment. Although it’s not impossible to overcome these barriers, the men that do ask for help and complete a drug and alcohol rehab program still have several challenges to face in recovery.
Men in early recovery who are enrolled in sober living and aftercare programs must still be vigilant about maintaining their recovery, despite the many challenges of men’s sober living. If gender-specific risk factors are not addressed, these men may face a higher risk of relapse.
Challenges of Men’s Sober Living: Men’s Issues in Addiction Recovery
Men in recovery face many obstacles, but those who are enrolled in a transitional housing program will truly benefit from the additional recovery support services provided during the first few vulnerable weeks and months of their independent sobriety. Unfortunately, even with the additional support, the risk of relapse is still present and most men who relapse will do so for the following reasons:
- Lack of treatment engagement – According to one study, men were less likely to engage in group counseling than women, therefore increasing their risk of relapse.2 This reaffirms research that shows that more intense participation in treatment is associated with lower rates of relapse.
- Undiagnosed psychiatric disorders – People diagnosed with mood disorders, anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, or conduct disorder are also twice as likely to suffer from a drug use disorder, such as addiction or dependence.3 Effective addiction treatment should address both the addiction and the psychiatric disorder if both are present. Otherwise, maintaining sobriety will be extremely difficult.
- Lack of support – Although women are strongly wired for relationships, all humans desire connection, and even men need a strong support system in recovery. A man enrolled in a transitional living program is much less likely to maintain his sobriety without a strong social and emotional support system. Many men’s issues in addiction recovery can be managed with proper support and peer guidance.
- Romantic relationships – Love and sex can provide the same mental euphoria that drugs do, which makes romantic relationships a dangerous endeavor in early recovery. Men who jump into relationships too early after rehab or who engage in multiple relationships very rapidly may just end up replacing one addiction with another, which isn’t healthy either. Although this is one of the major challenges of men’s sober living, it is a primary issue for women in recovery as well.
- The belief that they can control their drug usage – One study found that men felt entitled to use their drug of choice after successfully maintaining sobriety for a particular amount of time. They also felt that they could control their usage after having been sober.2 When men in recovery become overconfident or complacent about their sobriety, relapse becomes an even bigger danger.
- Positive emotions – While women are much more likely to relapse due to negative emotions such as depression and loneliness, men are more likely to relapse after periods of positive emotion.1 Studies have also found that men tend to use drugs to amplify positive moods or to cope with social and behavioral problems.4 In these instances, a man may decide that he feels great and therefore he doesn’t need to go to his group therapy session, or that he can handle going to a bar with some friends. This type of mindset can be detrimental to the success of men in recovery.
- Avoidance of connections – For some men, making connections with others is extremely difficult. Therefore, they view using drugs and alcohol to avoid connection. If a man is having a particularly difficult day or he is struggling to meet the objectives of his sober living program, he may resort to drug abuse to avoid interpersonal contact with his peers in recovery. Addiction aftercare programs for men can help provide sober and supportive social connections, especially when a man is hesitant or unsure about how to get connected with the recovery community.
Addiction Aftercare Programs for Men
Men’s aftercare programs for substance abuse can provide several key factors that are essential to the success of any sober man or person. To enhance the efficacy of substance abuse treatment for men, the following factors should be provided within any sober living program for men in early recovery.
- Social and Emotional Support – Support systems are key for both men and women in recovery, especially the early stages. Although studies show that men are less likely than women to maintain a social network,2 a sober living program can help men develop a healthy social support group and cultivate it throughout the progression of their program. Building a peer support system can also provide learning opportunities for men who need assistance in asking for, accepting, and offering help to others.
- Consistent Engagement in Treatment – Personal monitoring programs and men’s aftercare programs for substance abuse that keep men accountable can help them maintain consistent engagement in treatment, particularly group therapy sessions. It is essential for men in recovery to have a safe and welcoming environment in which to discuss the issues they’re facing. These groups also provide an excellent opportunity for men to challenge society’s cultural expectations about men and develop a broader vision of what it means to be a man in today’s world.6
- Goal-Oriented Treatment – Emphasizing recovery goals in a transitional housing program can be very helpful for men in recovery. Men tend to be more goal and action-oriented, so giving them something to do to prepare for the next steps of recovery appeases their sense of control, usefulness, and confidence.7 Men’s aftercare programs for substance abuse should be very goal-oriented.
Men’s Substance Abuse Recovery: Get Started Today
Many men in recovery find themselves struggling to stay sober because they don’t have the right support. However, long-term sobriety is possible for every person in recovery, despite the challenges they face. It’s all about having access to adequate treatment and aftercare services.
Eudaimonia’s sober living homes for men span four different cities and provide a variety of recovery support services, such as IOP, peer recovery support program, and employment and educational assistance. If you’re interested in learning more about our sober living programs for men in recovery, please contact our admissions team today.