Overcoming the Stigmas of Men Pursuing Addiction Treatment

February 22, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

Substance use disorder (SUD) affects men and women equally, and there is no one who is “immune” to the disease. However, men can face a number of unnecessary and preventative barriers in their pursuit of addiction treatment for overcoming SUD or mental health disorders. Recognizing the stigmas that men face is the first step in challenging them. Likewise, actively working to deconstruct these stigmas for loved ones can be instrumental in creating a healthy atmosphere that promotes effective treatment and recovery for a healthy, sober future. 

Identifying the Stigmas Preventing Addiction Treatment

It is perfectly normal for an individual to have reservations about committing to a professional addiction treatment program. For men and women alike, feelings of uncertainty can doubt are incredibly common, and an individual may not feel comfortable discussing these emotional topics and vulnerabilities yet, especially with strangers. However, men can face a few additional challenges when pursuing addiction treatment, even if they are aware that they would benefit from these transformative addiction treatment programs. 

Unhealthy Expectations

Men are often much less comfortable opening up about emotional challenges for many reasons, most of which stem from the cultural idea that men should exude strength or otherwise deny these emotions. From being told “boys don’t cry,” or other similar notions, many men feel compelled to adhere to these expectations in daily life, even to a person’s own detriment. Feeling unsupported when reaching out for help regarding emotional challenges, such as depression, stress, anxiety, and much more, can further inform the use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism as men feel they are not allowed to express these emotional vulnerabilities or admit to personal challenges. 

Communication Barriers

The lack of willingness to express emotional needs can also lead to other challenges. Men who may be ready to discuss such needs may not have the language or strategies to do so. These challenges can instead manifest as anger or a further increase in substance use if they lack the skills to communicate these nuanced needs.

Misconceptions About Addiction

Lastly, overly masculine cultures can also influence how addiction is perceived by men. Pervasive misconceptions about addiction can greatly affect men’s ability to pursue treatment, especially if it is believed that addiction manifest solely as a result of some kind of moral failing or results from some kind of lack of willpower. Despite how fictitious these notions are, these social barriers and stigmas surrounding addiction can still prevent many from pursuing the necessary treatment to overcome addiction.

Overcoming the Stigmas

Despite the various stigmas that men face, there are things each person can do to challenge these ideas and create an open, and honest space for men who would benefit from pursuing addiction treatment. Addiction is a devastating disease, and treatment to overcome its effects and any accompanying mental health disorders that inform it is necessary. Proper action and support play an important role in deconstructing these stigmas and encouraging addiction treatment. 

Be Vigilant and Ask Questions

Many men may not feel comfortable discussing their emotional needs or challenges caused by addiction, instead allowing these feelings to bubble beneath the surface. While many men may not reach out for help of their own volition, being vigilant and identifying the signs and symptoms of addiction can help supports open a dialogue surrounding a loved one’s needs for treatment in recovery. Asking specific questions and creating a comfortable and honest space can encourage men to begin talking about their needs for recovery. 

Avoid Stigmatizing Language

Language can be a major influence on an individual’s willingness and attitude surrounding addiction treatment. Ensuring that an individual is avoiding stigmatizing language, even outside of a treatment or recovery dialogue, can be instrumental. Avoiding common masculine ideas or language, with phrases such as “toughen up” or other notions, can be important in establishing a space devoid of these kinds of expectations. This can also be extended to the way an individual discusses addiction, referring to it as a disease and talking about it as such, rather than an integral aspect of a person’s identity or some kind of personal blame or failure.

Model Healthy Behavior

Engaging in healthy behaviors oneself can model these practices for others, and men may be more willing to engage in self-care or healthy dialogues if such strategies have been modeled. For some, hearing others discuss their emotional needs can create a safe space to consider their own. However, others may look to these modeled conversations and atmosphere to better understand their own emotional state and learn how to begin communicating regarding these needs. 

Start Small

Men considering professional addiction treatment may still have many reservations about sharing their experiences. However, working with supports and starting small can be instrumental in creating an effective healing atmosphere. Asking for help with small tasks or expressing simple emotional needs, such as when an individual is upset, sad, or otherwise, can all begin to normalize the practice. Many of the stigmas men face can be intimately ingrained in an individual and deconstructing the stigmas and their implications will take time. However, it is also necessary to best embrace the most effective healing opportunities and make the most of each person’s time in addiction treatment. 

Men face many unique stigmas in their pursuit of a healthier, sober life. We at Buena Vista Recovery are committed to not only personalizing your addiction treatment plan to your unique needs but also deconstructing the unnecessary and harmful stigmas that may further impact your journey. From a supportive, understanding, and sympathetic staff to an atmosphere based on community and care, we are prepared to address not only the effects of substance use and mental health disorders but also create an atmosphere of healing for all. From detox and residential treatment to ongoing outpatient care, we can help you through the entire continuum of care for a truly transformative recovery. For more information, call to speak to us at (480) 741-9414 or complete the insurance verification form.