Helping Men Embrace Vulnerability in Order to Heal

A man pretending to push a boulder.

Helping Men Embrace Vulnerability in Order to Heal

Addiction treatment and early recovery can be a vulnerable time for some men. This can be due to negative stigma from friends, family, and peers. In other words, societal and environmental stereotypes can make it very difficult for some men to embrace vulnerability during each stage of addiction. Fortunately, exploring different programs can help those facing challenges with intense cravings and unwanted triggers to overcome addiction and essentially heal while moving forward from drugs and alcohol. Surrendering to aftercare services with a trusted treatment facility can help individuals learn the sober living skills needed to effectively cope and respond to negativity from others. 

Facing Negative Stigma as a Male

Surrendering to treatment can sometimes be perceived as weak, especially by those who once engaged in drugs with the individual. This can be due to the fact they may still have a fixated view on harmful substances. When one is addicted, nothing else comes before the drug they are dependent on. In today’s society, men are often expected to be built with strength, act as the sole provider, and fear nothing. Masculinity deciphers a male from a female. The traditional standards of a male, include: 

  • Professional success
  • Exerts dominance
  • Presents a tough appearance
  • Self-reliant
  • Assertive and firm
  • Does not cry


Gaining a Different Perspective

Although many males facing problems with addiction and recovery may be perceived as weak, making sacrifices is a key component of masculinity. An individual in recovery is typically required to make major sacrifices and ultimate change to achieve long-term sobriety. Transitioning into recovery involves one becoming self-reliant while staying firm and standing their ground against cravings, negative stigma, and unwanted triggers, all while maintaining strength. This is another attribute of masculinity. 

Therefore, individuals should embrace vulnerability by viewing treatment and recovery from a different perspective. The purpose of surrendering to treatment is to work toward a better life. That is the strongest sacrifice one can ever make! Despite the negative stigma, choosing to follow through with continuing care to ensure long-term stability should be viewed as strong and responsible. 

Embrace Vulnerability With Sober Living Skills

Transitioning into early recovery can be a very sensitive time for some males. Not everybody is ready to move forward as not everyone’s background with addiction is the same. This does not make an individual any less than those who do not have any problems moving forward into society after inpatient rehab. Society has the wrong view of addiction and masculinity. 

Not everyone understands substance use disorder (SUD) completely especially if they have never experienced the many stages of addiction. Life naturally comes with hurt, sacrifice, and change. Not everyone knows how to cope to effectively adapt for a better future. This is completely normal. Thus, sober living skills can provide many benefits so one can live a more comfortable lifestyle. Various sober living skills that promote long-term abstinence include: 

  • Build a strong sober network
  • Connect with the community
  • Set goals and work toward them
  • Participate in sober activities
  • Stay consistent with a routine
  • Take time to self-reflect with gratitude


Embrace Vulnerability Through Acceptance

Past addictive behaviors can bring on intense guilt and shame. For example, an individual may have neglected friends and family, stolen money from loved ones, or presented aggressive behavior related to their condition. Part of moving forward requires an individual to forgive themselves, excuse others, and overall accept their condition. Once an individual discontinues using drugs or alcohol and takes time to self-reflect, they can begin the healing process. 

Based on a study by the American Journal of Public Health, addiction not only affects the individual but everyone involved as well. Although this may not be the direct cause, trauma is commonly linked with addiction. It may be difficult for an individual to forgive loved ones for their negative response to their addiction, but it is essential to let go to restore healthy relationships.

For example, forgiveness can free the victim of their past without making the victim feel dependent on the wrongdoer. At the same time, forgiveness can promote compassion, harmony, love, and acceptance. Holding a grudge against oneself and others is very unhealthy. An individual may find benefit from replacing the wrongdoer with goodwill. By doing this, they may reduce: 

  • Negative thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Bad behaviors
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Different types of anxiety


Embrace Vulnerability With Additional Support

Some men experience great difficulty forgiving themselves, coping with hurtful stigma from others, and accepting their condition moving forward. This can make it very challenging to maintain long-term sobriety. Participating in aftercare services can help individuals learn to embrace vulnerability and effectively overcome certain challenges while in recovery. Continuing care promotes a healthy future by preventing relapse. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, relapse prevention, for example, is a program that involves specific strategies to reduce the likelihood and severity of a substance relapse. The program works to decrease problematic thought patterns and behaviors. Other types of programs that can help one stay on track to long-term sobriety include: 

  • Sober living
  • Pet-friendly treatment
  • Continued therapy
  • 12-Step programs
  • Outpatient treatment