Men face specific issues in addiction treatment that women may not face. As such, it is important for recovery programs to address those needs. Men often face more intense societal expectations in some areas, such as the expectation to be masculine, independent, and not vulnerable.
In a men’s rehab program, extra time can be spent on discussing the concept of masculinity as well as how privacy and confidentiality will be maintained throughout rehab. Due to concerns about privacy, men may require more time to gain trust in the program and fully open up to the treatment process.
Male-Centric Therapeutic Modalities
In treatment programs designed specifically for men, therapeutic approaches that resonate best with men are selected. Such modalities can include group activities, discussions, and individual counseling sessions tailored to their experiences.
In general, many men might be goal and action-oriented and respond well to concrete and specific steps they can take toward their goals. As such, therapeutic modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are often well suited for men in rehab.  CBT is structured and goal oriented. Negative thoughts and behaviors are identified, and healthy behaviors are adopted.
For men who struggle with regulating their emotions, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be particularly helpful. This type of therapy helps individuals learn to effectively manage their emotions in relation to mental health conditions as well as substance use disorders (SUD).
Brotherhood & Support
When a group of males embark on the treatment process together, they often build a sense of camaraderie and support. Together, a sense of brotherhood is fostered that encourages open communication and understanding. As trust builds throughout the program, participants learn from one another by sharing their own experiences with addiction, displaying empathy, and supporting one another through the recovery process.
Masculinity & Vulnerability
The goal of any treatment program is to establish a safe space where participants feel comfortable to share. In men’s programs, participants are offered a safe environment to explore issues related to masculinity, vulnerability, and societal expectations and how these may have influenced substance use.
Defining masculinity is sure to be a topic of discussion in a men’s rehab program. Many men feel the expectation from family and society to be independent and stoic. It may be against their instinct to openly discuss their feelings and allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of a group of people. What may appear as a lack of trust or disinterest in the treatment process may actually be difficulty with properly identifying and expressing their feelings.
Physical Fitness & Well-Being
Fitness plays an important role in men’s mental health and overall well-being. Rehab programs for men often incorporate physical activities and wellness initiatives into their programs to address that need.
Individuals’ physical health is assessed at the start of rehab programs, and this is part of comprehensive personal assessments and treatment plans.  By providing opportunities for physical fitness, treatment programs give individuals a chance to take control of their personal well-being, as well as potentially bond with others who may enjoy engaging in physical activities together.
Career & Life Skills Development
Many men who enter inpatient rehab are struggling with their careers or in need of specific life skills development. In addition to specific addiction treatment, high-quality inpatient programs aim to equip men with practical skills necessary for career advancement and successful reintegration into daily life.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that employment plays an important role in a man’s recovery journey. Men who are unemployed are significantly more likely to struggle with substance abuse than men with jobs. As such, an emphasis on career and life skills development is an essential component of men’s rehab programs.
Family & Relationship Counseling
Psychotherapy is an imperative piece to any treatment program. Men in rehab can benefit from the assistance of family therapy or couples counseling to address family dynamics, repair relationships, and strengthen connections. For men, partners and family members are often encouraging factors to seek treatment.
Goals of family and relationship counseling with men in treatment include the following:
- Developing the ability to see things from the perspective of others
- Increasing the sense of mutual responsibility of all people in the relationship or family
- Challenging stereotypical beliefs and behaviors
Many family and couples therapy methods are available to support communication and connection among family members and between partners. This can be an invaluable tool to support long-term sobriety.
Holistic Wellness Approach
Through a holistic approach to wellness, men’s mental, physical, and emotional health are promoted in comprehensive treatment programs. The role of spirituality is discussed and considered in treatment, and it can play an important role in encouraging sobriety. Research has found that individuals who engage in a religious or spiritual practice are less likely to abuse substances.
An effective treatment program addresses all needs of the individual. Substance use cannot be the only factor being treated. All the client’s needs, including underlying mental health issues and treatment of any diseases or health conditions, must be addressed. Care must be coordinated among appropriate healthcare professionals to provide holistic care to the individual.
Mental Health Education
Many people faced with a substance use disorder have never been educated on the psychological aspects of addiction. A men’s rehab program can help a man better understand his patterns of substance use while also providing tools to build resilience and healthy coping strategies. Psychoeducation in substance abuse treatment is a collaboration between treatment providers and the individual in recovery.
The goal of psychoeducation is to teach clients about substance use, engage them in the process, build their understanding of addiction, and then use that knowledge to encourage treatment and long-term sobriety. No matter what therapeutic modalities are being used, mental health education can be incorporated to increase positive treatment outcomes.
Aftercare & Relapse Prevention
Recovery does not end when a rehab program is complete. Before a treatment program ends, aftercare and relapse prevention strategies must be identified to ensure the ongoing support for men as they transition back into their daily lives. Such strategies may include ongoing therapy, participation in a 12-step program, healthy eating and exercise habits, and building a solid support network in recovery.
The goal of aftercare planning is to have a participant transition back into their regular life and independently maintain a substance-free life, without the highly structured support of a treatment program. To prevent relapse, an aftercare plan must be holistic and include input from the various providers the individual has worked with, including the individual himself.
Why Choose an Inpatient Rehab Program for Men?
When it comes to addiction, men are more likely to struggle with a substance use disorder and less likely to seek medical or behavioral health services for their problems.
Men seeking addiction treatment are encouraged to consider a male-focused addiction rehab program, where they may feel most comfortable receiving treatment. If a man feels more comfortable in treatment, he is more likely to fully embrace the treatment experience, open up in therapy, and participate in supportive activities with peers in rehab. And again, studies tailored addiction treatment benefits both men and women.
Tailored support and understanding offered in such a gender-specific setting can offer the holistic and compassionate support a man needs to get him on his road to recovery. Inpatient rehab for men might not be the best choice for every man, but it can greatly benefit some men on their path to long-term recovery.
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- Addressing the specific behavioral health needs of men. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. May 2014. Accessed January 23, 2024.
- Substance use disorder (SUD). Cleveland Clinic. Published October 20, 2022. Accessed January 24, 2024.
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