Addiction has been recognized as a disease of the brain that changes the way the user thinks, feels and acts. As a disorder, addiction and substance abuse affect everyone differently. Although both genders experience addiction, often men and women experience their addiction in subtle, but different ways. What kinds of issues and challenges do recovering men face?
Young Men and Substance Abuse
During active addiction, men may go to bars together or use drugs together, just like women. However, many young men start their using and drinking behavior because they feel it’s expected of them in social settings. Many people don’t start drinking or experimenting with drugs until college when they feel more “free” — and overconsumption can become a competitive behavior for younger men. Unfortunately, our culture encourages excessive consumption in men and views it as part of a “phase” or part of growing up. Drinking is even often considered to be a “masculine” behavior. Fraternities especially encourage it, sometimes with dangerous and deadly results. Over the years, there have been many stories in the news of young men dying from alcohol poisoning or from injuries sustained while using drugs.
When binge drinking becomes “normal” to you, that is usually an indication of a severe substance abuse problem. Becoming aggressive, combative, or getting into fights when you’ve been drinking is also a signal that your substance abuse (and behaviors while using or drinking) are out of control.
Many men have trouble leaving the college life behind, or merely get drawn into substance abuse to cope with the stress of the work world. Amphetamines can often make the user feel more able to get “things done” or knocking back a few drinks may make them “loosen up” from a hard work day. When these become habits or you are unable to control your use, your life becomes unmanageable. You may be less able to complete work projects or have trouble just getting out of bed in the morning. Men from all walks of life have faced the challenges of addiction; from CEOs to rock stars, no one is immune from the dangers of addiction. However, with the resources we have today, everyone has the opportunity to recover.
Underlying Issues for Men in Recovery
Many men seeking recovery know that they need to change their behaviors, but society has conditioned them to think that their feelings and emotions are not only invalid but should also remain hidden at all costs. Bottling up your feelings won’t help you get clean or sober. Men in recovery learn to embrace their emotions and heal from past traumas and difficulties in a safe space with peers that are willing to open up their lives and do the same. It’s important for you to know that you are not alone, and there are also men who have walked this path before you. They are here to help you change, both in treatment centers and recovery circles.
Going to treatment gives you the space you need to grow and change in a comfortable and confidential environment. Many men have families and responsibilities that they need to tend to, and this can be a big stressor when it comes to recovery. It’s okay to take time to get yourself well.
Men in recovery can suffer from anger management issues, anxiety and depression as well as other mental health issues. Some men may come from a background of trauma, especially if they have served in the military or had a difficult childhood. You may also have relationship issues with the opposite sex that need to be explored and addressed. Treatment offers help with co-occurring disorders and relationship issues, and can help you discover coping mechanisms to rely on in everyday life. You cannot recover unless you begin to take care of your mind and body at the same time. Detox will help you rid yourself of the substance you’re using and other toxins, and treatment will help you find a new way to approach life and handle your personal challenges, drug and alcohol-free.
Recovery is vital for those who are struggling with addiction, and at first, it might seem like getting in touch with your feelings is a huge struggle. Understanding your underlying emotions and creating a new inner dialogue to cope with these emotions will help you grow stronger.
Discussing your feelings with other men may feel difficult at first, but knowing that you are not alone and learning about the struggles of your peers can be empowering. Recovery, after all, is a powerful process that can help you reclaim your life and maintain a focus on the present as well as the future.
Are you wondering about your options for treatment? We can help you learn about insurance, treatment offerings, and more. Please give us a call at (877) 228-2401 to learn more about how we can help.