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Addiction Treatment for Men: How Do Rehab Centers Address the Needs of Men in Recovery?

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Addiction is a chronic and progressive condition that affects all genders. However, there are some key differences to be aware of when it comes to men.
According to The National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women.”[1]
Additionally, men and women have unique experiences when it comes to drug abuse and alcoholism. While gender does not always dictate a person’s life experiences, it can have a significant impact on the way you deal with certain situations and traumas. Because of this, addiction treatment centers need to acknowledge these differences and address the specific needs of men in recovery.

What are the Barriers for Addiction Treatment Among Men?

The first step that an addiction treatment center should take to address the specific needs of men is to acknowledge the barriers they face to recovery. Thankfully, drug and alcohol rehab centers like Woburn Wellness emphasize the importance of breaking down the barriers that men struggle with.
The barriers men face to addiction treatment and recovery include:

Fear of Emotional Vulnerability

Growing up as a man it is common to learn that you have to be strong. Unfortunately, gender biases have taught the general society that strength means never showing your emotions and moving forward despite the emotional challenges you might be facing internally.
Many men avoid seeking help for addiction because they are worried about being perceived as “weak” or “not masculine”. However, showing your emotions, acknowledging that you need help, and starting the healing process is a true sign of strength.

Being the “Breadwinner” of the Family

Many men believe that to be valuable as a partner or a father, they have to be the money maker in the family. While providing your family with the money you need to feel secure can be a great way to show you care, it is not more important than your health. Additionally, this belief that you must be the “breadwinner” of your family can prevent you from seeking professional treatment, as it might require you to take some time off of work.

Downplaying and Denying Emotions

Since of the views society has about men being strong and not showing their emotions, you might have learned to keep it all inside as a kid. As you grow up, these societal ideas may cause you to begin denying or downplaying your emotions when you are angry, sad, or fearful. This can lead to an inability to express your emotions or show vulnerability in almost every aspect of your life.
Downplaying or denying emotions can be a serious barrier to recovery from addiction, as you must address your emotions and accept them for what they truly are to learn how to manage them without using drugs or alcohol.

How Do Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Help Men Overcome These Barriers?

According to the National Institutes of Drug Abuse, of the 106,699 overdose deaths that occurred in 2021, 69% of them were men.[2]
Because men seem to be at a higher risk of severe and life-threatening substance use disorders, addiction treatment programs work hard to address the specific needs of men. But how do they do this?

Gender-Specific Counseling Groups for Men

First, many rehab programs offer gender-specific counseling groups. This provides men with the ability to discuss their traumas, emotions, and triggers with other men.
This is incredibly beneficial for men who are worried about women seeing them as weak or less masculine because of their feelings. Additionally, it teaches men how to create real connections with other men and discuss their feelings with their friends in a vulnerable manner without the fear of being judged.
During counseling groups and individual therapy sessions, men will learn how to:

  • Identify their emotions
  • Discuss their emotions without downplaying them
  • Unpack their feelings with another person without feeling judged
  • Overcome harmful stereotypes about masculinity that are perpetuated by society
  • Identify triggers and work through them productively
  • Manage anger before it festers and causes an outburst

Additionally, most people who suffer from addiction have a history of trauma or mental health issues. Men who experience a traumatic event in their childhood might not be comfortable unpacking it in front of women, and they may not be comfortable discussing painful emotions, either. As a result, men’s-only counseling groups are vital to the recovery process for many men.

Treating the Root Cause

It is necessary to treat the root causes of addiction in men to prevent relapse. Treating the root cause of addiction in men involves a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying factors contributing to their addictive behaviors. It is important to understand that addiction is a complex issue with multiple dimensions, including biological, psychological, and social factors.
Effective addiction treatment for men will involve individualized treatment plans, dual diagnosis treatment options, positive lifestyle changes tailored for men, support networks, and aftercare programs.

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Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

(781) 622-9190

Get Connected to an Addiction Treatment Program That Understands the Needs of Men

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, professional treatment is vital to your recovery. However, you might feel reluctant to ask for help because of the harmful societal standards that have been placed on men. Thankfully, drug and alcohol rehab programs like Woburn Wellness can help you overcome these stereotypes and expectations while teaching you how to maintain long-term sobriety. The team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is firmly grounded in the philosophy that life choices and the skills to influence those choices can break the cycle of addiction and return people to a life of purpose. To learn more about our addiction treatment program, contact Woburn Wellness today.


  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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