Addiction affects millions of men and women across the United States and many of them seek help from addiction treatment centers each year. National surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that men abuse drugs and alcohol at higher rates than women. An astonishing 20% of American men had used illegal drugs in the past year in 2014, while only 13% of women had done so.1
One research study found that men are also more likely than women to relapse after treatment.2 The evidence shows that men are seriously at risk for drug and alcohol problems and might not be receiving the help they need.
You should look for certain things in a program if you’re a male searching for an addiction treatment center.
#1. A Good Therapist
One problem you may face when seeking help is difficulty opening up in therapy. As a male, you may be taught as a child, either directly or indirectly, that talking about feelings or showing emotion is a sign of weakness. Although this is far from the truth, you may carry this belief with you into adulthood and feel uncomfortable in therapy.
A good therapist will balance gentleness with challenging you to step outside your comfort zone. Some questions to ask when looking for a treatment center are:
- Do you offer group, individual, and family therapy?
- Are group therapy sessions geared toward men’s issues?
- What type of approach do your therapists take toward someone who isn’t ready to open up?
#2. Recovery Meetings
Being exposed to similar people who are comfortable sharing their stories is one way to help you leave your comfort zone. Meeting with other men at different stages of recovery and hearing them talk about their experiences can put you at ease if you are reluctant to open up at first.
Many addiction treatment programs offer either recovery meetings on site or bring clients to meetings in the evenings. Recovery meetings include 12-step groups like Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
#3. Relapse Prevention Plan
Relapse prevention is especially important for you as a male because you are more likely to relapse after finishing treatment, compared to women. Centers can offer relapse prevention in several different ways.
Some programs offer medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction. Doctors may prescribe Suboxone or methadone to help wean you off drugs or as a long-term medication to help with drug cravings.
Relapse prevention can also involve therapy sessions that focus on helping you identify your triggers, and brainstorming a plan to cope with those triggers rather than give in to them. Ask what strategies a program uses for relapse prevention when you’re searching for a treatment center.
#4. Personalized Care
No 2 people are alike, so a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment fails to account for everyone’s unique issues, experiences and strengths. Treatment centers should work individually with you to determine what type of help is needed.
Think about what you would like to gain, your goals, and any services or amenities that you would prefer. Do you want a holistic approach or do you need assistance with legal issues or housing? You can ask the treatment center about how they can help personalize its program to fit your needs.
#5. Aftercare Planning
The reality of addiction treatment is that it is far from a quick fix. Recovery continues well after treatment ends, so having a good aftercare plan is essential, especially for men at risk of relapse.
Aftercare planning can include setting up therapy appointments, finding housing, and referrals to local recovery meetings. A good aftercare plan will also anticipate any roadblocks that may get in your way.
Ideally, an aftercare plan is created for you, by you, with input from a therapist or case manager. It is the final step in the treatment process, but the first step in living a sober life on your own. The goal is to set you up for success so that you can continue the great strides you made in treatment.
1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Rockville, MD.
2. Florentine, R., Anglin, M. D., Gil-Rivas, V., & Taylor, E. (1997). Drug treatment: explaining the gender paradox. Substance Use & Misuse, 32(6), 653-678.