The concept of substance abuse isn’t a foreign one, but surprisingly, it’s not very well understood. This is especially true as it relates to men. For example, men are as likely as women to report using drugs and alcohol during adolescence, but twice as many men remain addicted after the age of 18.
The specific reasons for this discrepancy aren’t known, but it’s an alarming statistic nonetheless. When higher addiction rates are coupled with a “tough guy” attitude that prevents many men from seeking treatment, it’s a real crisis that doesn’t seem likely to abate anytime soon.
Addiction is a painful situation that destroys the lives of many men, their families, and their loved ones. Perhaps it stems from societal pressures and gender norms that teach men never to show weakness. It may also result from childhood physical or sexual abuse, which often goes unreported and therefore unresolved. While the possible causes vary, the path to recovery requires a holistic approach to true healing.
Dealing with Self
Many men aren’t exactly comfortable talking about their feelings or asking for help when they need it. Those are the things that are needed to break an addictive cycle, though. For a male addict, it might help to know that there are others in their situation and that they don’t have to be ashamed. It’s not a weakness, it doesn’t mean you’re less of a man, and you don’t have to fight it alone. It’s helpful to find an environment that will remove the stigma associated with addiction.
This is the approach of rehabilitation centers like Elevate Addiction Services. Dan Manson, Elevate’s CEO, stresses that the key to addiction recovery is to identify and solve the root cause, rather than treating the outward symptoms alone. To get patients to open up, he says that “Our goal is to remove labels entirely while you’re here,” so as to create an environment that’s conducive to healing. Elevate provides counseling and support for patients to deal with the emotional, spiritual, and physical issues that have caused their addiction.
Changing a Life
Getting clean is one thing, but staying that way can be the challenge of a lifetime. To do it, the addicted person needs not only to deal with the internal causes of their addiction but the external ones as well. This can also be a big challenge for the male substance abuser. Saying no to longtime friends or changing patterns of behavior is anathema to many men, and it’s a barrier to progress that must be overcome.
To find long-lasting success in recovery, the right environment must be maintained. It’s helpful to find a purpose to guide oneself. “Start from the bottom if you have to, but put yourself in a place that excites you and surround yourself with people who share your enthusiasm.”, says Dan, adding that “You won’t feel lonely anymore and you will eventually feel less and less need to escape to drugs because your life is fun and exciting and you are connecting with people who share your interests.”
Refusing to Remain a Statistic
As previously noted, many of the things that work well in ending addiction aren’t strengths of the traditional male. The statistics make it critical that men find a way to get help and be helped despite their reticence, though.
They should look at it from the reverse perspective; that real weakness is ceding control of oneself to an addiction, and that a real “tough guy” should refuse to give in to it. It’s only then that the changes that are necessary to make a lasting difference will be possible. It’s time for men to face the problem of substance abuse head on, and win the fight for good, whatever it takes.
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