Monday, 15 October 2018 17:03

Improving Men’s Treatment: Why Gender Matters

It would be reasonable to assume that men’s issues are adequately addressed in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment. However, that is simply not the case. According to SAMHSA, men are consistently seventy-percent of the treatment admissions each year; it would benefit all involved to ensure that they are receiving the best and most appropriate services available. While addiction treatment has historically focused on men and a man’s perspective it has also not recognized the full array of problems that men have – in their addictions or recovery processes.

The primary question is: If we did not assume we knew what men needed, what would we discover are their true needs? Modern treatment has not been a failure by any means. However, there are very few programs that have created services within the context of a man’s experience. This means that all staff have been hired and the program and all services have been created with an understanding of the realities of men’s lives that addresses and responds to their challenges and strengths. The following are just some of men’s core issues:

  • When men get sober they have one primary vehicle for their recovery: relationships. Yet, the full scope of men’s relational needs and competencies are rarely addressed.
  • Men are not raised to have emotional awareness yet it is expected in treatment and recovery. Grief, in particular, is fundamental to a man’s recovery, especially his spiritual growth.
  • According to SAMHSA, over 75% of men and women entering treatment report some history of abuse. We need to do a better job addressing the impact of abuse and trauma and helping men to feel safe discussing the entirety of their experiences with these issues (i.e., as survivors and also perpetrators.)
  • Most treatment programs ignore any social context and/or the consequences of political, social, and economic power.
  • While we turn a lot of traditional masculinity on its head in treatment and recovery (talking about feelings, asking for help, etc.,) we rarely put the treatment experience and its concomitant expectations for recovery in the context of male socialization.

When we make a difference in men’s lives, we make a difference in women and children’s lives, too. There are far too many suffering out there for us not to do everything we can to improve men’s services. Recovery creates the possibility of a box that can hold 64 crayons and we give men about ten or twelve and tell them to stay sober and be happy. That’s not good enough.

By Dan Griffin, Author of A Man’s Way through the Twelve Steps, Co-Author of Helping Men Recover & former state drug court coordinator for the state of Minnesota

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Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers a three-day professional development workshop created by Dan Griffin based on his book, A Man’s Way. The course offers practical guidance and tools for professionals working with men in recovery and navigating the challenges they face.

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 13:39

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