Struggling with substance use that develops into addiction is a highly personal journey. A successful treatment program has to account for the needs of each patient while addressing the needs of the whole group of people seeking treatment. For this reason, many men choose programs that cater to them specifically. While the end goal of preparing patients for life in recovery is the same, men’s addiction treatment programs are designed with the specific attitudes and life experiences of men in mind.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what you need to know about addiction treatment for men in Aurora, IL, so you can make the best treatment decision for yourself or a loved one.
How Addiction Affects Men Uniquely
There are significant differences in how men and women interact with drugs and alcohol. They develop addiction differently, have different habits when in active addiction and handle relapse differently. For example, women tend to misuse drugs in response to emotional pain and mental health conditions, while men are more likely to start abusing substances in groups. Men often begin using as a way to fit in and to exert their masculinity.
Addiction Severity and Withdrawal
The development trajectory of the addiction is different, as well. Men take longer to become addicted, spending more time in what is called the “escalation” stage. Whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol, gambling or another issue, men usually take longer to reach a point where they can be diagnosed with a disorder. However, men also become addicted to substances while consuming lower doses than women do. These factors result in addiction that is more deep-seated by the time the man seeks treatment.
Once a man begins recovery at a treatment facility, he will typically have more severe withdrawal symptoms than a woman would. Alcohol withdrawal is particularly hard on the male body, causing symptoms that make it feel like the only option is to start drinking again. However, once treatment is complete, men often stay sober for longer periods than women do. This may be a result of less societal stigma and more occupational support for men who pursue recovery.
One thing men struggle with is a persistent sense of shame due to their addiction. They often feel that they will be seen as weak and that their masculinity will be compromised when asking for help. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as seeking addiction treatment is one of the bravest choices a person can make.
How a Single-Gender Addiction Treatment Program Benefits Men
The way our society brings up boys can make the processes of substance use treatment seem threatening. Men are typically expected to be totally independent and self-sufficient, while projecting an air of invulnerability. Emotional stoicism is frequently seen as a sign of strong masculinity, so boys and men often have years of practice with bottling up or ignoring their feelings. This attitude and the resulting behavior are what allow addiction to take root, and they make it more difficult to engage with treatment. Men who aren’t used to probing and expressing their emotions can become confused or angry, lessening their ability to learn from therapy and other activities.
The staff at drug addiction treatment centers for men are extensively familiar with the emotional processes men must go through to achieve stable recovery. For example, because men tend to be more goal-oriented, therapists and counselors can engage patients through regular reviews of past progress and the next steps to take.
Another focus in a men-only program is changing internal attitudes about treatment. Staff will emphasize and reinforce the fact that seeking treatment is a sign of strong character rather than any indicator of weakness. This is a significant barrier for many men, and single-gender programs can more effectively address this collective sentiment than mixed programs. The mere act of sharing space, histories and feelings with other men in a closed setting can provide patients with an environment where they can actually be themselves and focus solely on progress in recovery.
Here are three other benefits of single-gender programs:
1. Overcoming Expectations
While societal pressure to behave a certain way is rampant, many men also face a burden of expectation from specific people in their lives. Whether it’s from parents, intimate partners or even children, there may be specific demands that are not easy to talk about in a mixed-gender group. Working in male-only groups tends to reduce feelings of vulnerability when men are talking about their own personal struggles.
2. Sharing Communication Styles
Men often converse and work through problems with a different approach than women. Men tend to be more direct and informational in exchanges, whereas women may be more relational. These communication differences are often minor, but they can disrupt the flow of group therapy and lead to tension between members. In men-only programs, the variable of communication styles is more minimal.
3. Male-Centric Discussion
There is a lot to be said for diverse groups in which patients can learn from people with vastly different backgrounds, but men often don’t want to spend time listening to accounts of experiences they will never have. For instance, women with children rightly deserve to talk about their experiences with motherhood, but this simply isn’t directly relevant to the male members of the group. A single-gender program helps ensure every moment in treatment is addressing what it’s like to be a man struggling with addiction.
What to Look for in a Men’s Substance Use Treatment Center
Whether you are choosing an outpatient program or enrolling in a residential program, there are certain qualities you should look for. When looking for substance use treatment centers in Aurora, consider this checklist:
1. Qualified Therapists
Opening up in therapy is a primary challenge for most men, and an unskilled provider will make the situation even harder. Qualified and credentialed therapists have the training and experience to find the right approach for each individual. A program should have therapists who specialize in multiple forms of therapy, so they can find the best mix for each individual.
2. Group Therapy and Recovery Meetings
As part of men’s addiction treatment, patients must learn to open up to others beyond the scope of individual therapy. A good program provides a mix of group and individual therapy to promote the development of a support network.
Additionally, the program should offer resources so patients can choose the form of recovery meeting they prefer once formal treatment is over. While meeting types like 12-step groups work for some, others may find groups like LifeRing or SMART Recovery work better.
3. Relapse Prevention Plan
Relapse prevention is essential to forming a foundation for stability in recovery. Men need to learn what triggers cravings for drugs and alcohol, and what to do when those triggers arise. Relapse prevention involves strategizing with a counselor or therapist about what to do in a variety of situations. Who will you contact? What will you say? How will you remove yourself from triggering situations? Relapse prevention pulls together everything patients learn in therapy and provides a way to practice skills application before resuming independent life.
4. Personalized Care
By choosing to go to a drug addiction treatment center for men, you are already opting for a form of personalization. However, a program should go further than that to provide individualized treatment on a number of levels. How many types of therapy does the program offer? Can you choose a holistic approach? What complementary therapies and activities can you choose from? Find out what the program does to accommodate your individual needs and goals.
5. Aftercare Planning
Addiction treatment is not a quick fix. It is the beginning of a lifelong commitment to recovery. Once you leave a program, you shouldn’t just be sent off to fend for yourself without a plan for continued support and care.
There are many elements to an aftercare program, depending on your needs. The most basic service is a referral to local recovery meetings, so you can build a support network in the early days of recovery. Other needs might be ongoing therapy check-ins or resources for finding sober housing. An aftercare plan should be a collaborative effort between you and a therapist, using your goals as the roadmap.
How the Gateway Foundation Network Uses Evidence-Based Medicine
One common concern among men is entering a treatment program that doesn’t work. While there is no formula for permanently “curing” addiction, there are many forms of treatment that are scientifically shown to be the most beneficial to recovery. All drug addiction treatment centers for men should incorporate evidence-based treatments like those listed below to provide patients with the best foundation in recovery.
Since men are more likely to experience severe symptoms when withdrawing from drugs or alcohol, managing withdrawal symptoms can make the difference between quick relapse and sustained recovery. It’s a question of making life bearable as the body eliminates addictive substances and begins to heal.
Withdrawal management must address the physical symptoms that dominate the earliest days of recovery and psychological symptoms that tend to linger afterward. Alcohol and opioid withdrawal symptoms are often the most severe and extended. Some issues may be relatively minor and easy to manage, such as loss of appetite. Others, like alcohol withdrawal seizures, require close medical monitoring to keep safely in check.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
As part of withdrawal management, patients may benefit from medication-assisted treatment — this is the use of prescription medication to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal is the most common use for MAT. Medications including methadone and buprenorphine are opioids themselves, which act for longer periods with little to no intoxicating effect. This stops the brain from going into full opioid withdrawal, allowing the patient to participate in treatment without the distraction of withdrawal symptoms.
MAT is used either as a long-term treatment method or a way to taper patients off opioids safely. Either way, medical supervision is needed throughout the treatment.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
It is extremely common for addiction and one or more other mental illnesses to occur together. People with a mood or anxiety disorder are around twice as likely to also have a drug misuse or dependence disorder, and people with drug use disorders are about twice as likely to struggle with mood or anxiety disorders. Dual diagnosis is a formal recognition of co-occurring disorders, and treatment under this method differs from treatment for addiction alone.
Dual diagnosis treatment involves an evaluation of addiction in the context of mental health issues. It addresses both conditions and how they influence each other, allowing patients to get to the root of addiction while healing from the underlying mental health condition.
Multiple Therapy Modalities
The best drug and alcohol treatment centers in Illinois offer more than one form of individual therapy to suit the needs of each man in the program. Gateway Foundation offers these proven therapies:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT teaches patients how to recognize, evaluate and change negative thought patterns. Once patients can identify harmful thoughts, they can shift them toward more positive or objective thinking and subsequently make better decisions.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT is similar to CBT in that it is designed to change behavior patterns. It combines emotional regulation skills with mindfulness and acceptance, among other strategies.
- Motivational interviewing: This type of therapy is especially important for men who are ambivalent about deciding to seek treatment. It helps dispel doubt and encourages the patient to self-motivate — an invaluable skill for lifelong recovery.
- Trauma-informed therapy: Trauma is a common reason for men to develop an addiction. Addressing that trauma and working through it is vital to recovering mental health and gaining strength for recovery.
Holistic Treatment Options
Inpatient drug rehabilitation needs to be more than day-in, day-out therapy if it is to prepare patients for life outside the treatment facility. Patients should have access to activities that emphasize wellness and can be carried with them through life. Gateway Foundation understands the value of a holistic approach, and offers options like the following:
- Yoga: The controlled physical movement of yoga has practical benefits, like increasing flexibility and core strength. Patients can also learn how to connect with their spirituality and use yoga as a means of stress and anxiety management.
- Mindfulness and meditation: These practices teach patients how to calm down and be present in the moment, a critical skill for dispelling sudden drug and alcohol cravings.
- Art and music: Creative pursuits that allow patients to express themselves metaphorically can be extremely helpful for men who have difficulty being verbally expressive. They can facilitate self-understanding and provide an outlet for difficult emotions.
Take the Next Steps With Gateway Foundation
Single-gender addiction treatment offers men an environment where they can safely explore their emotions and pursue true healing without distraction. If you are looking for men’s addiction rehabilitation in Aurora, Gateway Foundation is here to help.
Gateway Aurora is a part of the Gateway Foundation Network located in Aurora, Illinois. Our evidence-based approach, in combination with a focus on men’s issues, allows us to provide the highest quality of care for men looking to free themselves from the grip of drug and alcohol addiction.
Learn more about our approaches to treatment and the benefits of our support by calling 630-647-5881or reaching out online.