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Men, Trauma and Healing in Recovery

men talking trauma outside

Men in recovery from addiction often have a high prevalence of trauma in their past. Distressing events can vary, from physical abuse to the sudden loss of a loved one from gun violence. Incidents like these can be a contributing factor to the development of addiction and can also complicate the recovery process. Studies suggest that many individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders have experienced traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, combat-related incidents, accidents, or other life-threatening experiences.

Healing from these experiences and addressing co-occurring conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is crucial for men in recovery. When these things go untreated, men in recovery – even long-term recovery –may struggle with depression, anger, and issues with relationships.

How Trauma Impacts a Man's Relationships

The aftermath of abuse, neglect, or other life-threatening experiences can significantly impact a man's relationships, influencing their interactions and emotional well-being. Here are some ways in which  it can affect a man's relationships:

  1. Trust issues: It can lead to difficulties trusting others, including romantic partners, friends, and family members. Past traumatic experiences can make it challenging for a man to believe in the intentions and sincerity of others, which can strain relationships.
  2. Emotional distance: Men who have lived through painful or frightening experiences, such as childhood abuse, may struggle with expressing their emotions and forming intimate connections. They may become emotionally guarded or detached as a protective mechanism, leading to distance in their relationships.
  3. Communication difficulties: Many men don't know how to talk about their feelings, and the emotional pain caused by traumatic experiences can hinder effective communication. Men may struggle to articulate their thoughts or avoid discussing upsetting events altogether. This lack of communication can create misunderstandings, resentment, and strained relationships.
  4. Intimacy challenges: It can impact a man's ability to engage in intimate relationships, both emotionally and physically. Men often fear vulnerability or have difficulties forming close emotional bonds with others.
  5. Emotional/Angry Outbursts: Many men who have experienced distressing incidents have issues regulating their emotions, making them prone to angry outbursts, anxiety, and other emotional storms.

Trauma has a lasting effect on its victims. People with substance use disorder often use drugs to numb the pain from these lasting effects. You're not alone if you're living like this, but there's a way through this by getting help and getting sober.

Men, Trauma, and the Justice System

Studies consistently indicate a high trauma and substance use prevalence among incarcerated individuals, especially men.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 75% of male inmates in the United States have a history of substance abuse or dependence. Additionally, studies have shown that many incarcerated men lived through traumatic experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence. In some studies, the rates of experiences among incarcerated men can be as high as 70-90%, with many also experiencing substance use disorders.

These statistics highlight the complex relationship between trauma, substance use, and incarceration. Consequently, there is a great need for more trauma-informed approaches and comprehensive interventions within correctional systems to address these underlying issues contributing to criminal behavior.

For many men, the stigma of seeking help independently is a barrier to treatment. As a result, treatment centers often refer them to therapy when they get help for substance abuse.

Getting Help for Trauma in Recovery

Therapy can help you learn to cope with addiction triggers that result from your traumatic experiences. You may need to learn new coping skills and work on bigger issues that result from your experiences.

Trauma-informed therapy is an approach that recognizes the impact of it on an individual's life and focuses on creating a safe and supportive therapeutic environment. It emphasizes empowerment, choice, collaboration, and sensitivity to potential triggers or re-traumatization. Therapists can provide a safe space for individuals to explore their experiences and work toward healing. A therapist can also recommend group therapy if you're a good fit.

Recovering From Trauma Is Possible

Healing from painful experiences is a personal and unique process. You won't recover overnight. Recovery is a lifelong process, and that's not a bad thing! You are healing your past and injured self and learning to care for and nurture your current being. Being patient and gentle with yourself is essential, allowing time for healing and seeking support when needed.

Recovery is possible, and with the right resources and help, individuals can regain control of their lives and begin to work on long-term healing.

If you have access, consider complementary and alternative therapies that complement traditional treatment, such as yoga, acupuncture, or art therapy. These approaches can help you process trauma, regulate emotions, and enhance your well-being.

You can also use self-care activities that promote relaxation and emotional well-being. This includes exercise, mindfulness or meditation, and journaling. For example, you may want to draw a bath on a lousy day or take a bike ride. Self-care includes activities that nourish your body, mind, or spirit and do not cause harm.

Try Sober Living In San Diego

Many people in early recovery find that sober living helps them strengthen their recovery and begin to rebuild their lives and relationships. In addition, sober living has tranquility, community, and a focus on the big picture: staying sober long-term. Learn more about what our homes have to offer by calling us!

Male bonding is something that’s usually portrayed in the media as living like a "tough guy.” Let’s face it; there are a lot of shows on television where men sit around, work on cars while swigging beer or heading on out to the bar. They say a sentence or two and then getting back to drinking.

Life isn’t very much like those portrayals, anyway. The world is diverse and full of people with a lot of different interests. You don’t need to drink to make friends or have closer relationships.

What To Do For Fun and Bond?

All that male bonding requires is having fun. In recovery, you’ll discover a lot about yourself, including new interests. A lot of guys return to interests they had before they started using drugs.

You might like to surf or ride your bike, for example. You may have been an amateur chef. Believe it or a not, a lot of people in 12-step rooms share similar interests with each other. In some areas, there are even running and marathon groups that have formed for people who are in recovery.

A lot of bonding goes on before meetings and after meetings. If you go to a meeting in the early evening, you’ll probably discover that there are people who like to go out for a few hours to dinner afterward. Or maybe you'll head over to eachother's homes to play video games.

So go ahead, make friends. It's not complicated.

Talking About Yourself

Talking about yourself may seem a little awkward when you’re hanging out with guys you’ve just met. Getting to trust others and become close to them can take some time. As a person new to recovery, you may feel insecure and lonely. These feelings and thoughts will change over time. Male bonding takes time.

One of the first people you’ll learn to trust in recovery is your sponsor. It’s usually recommended by “old-timers” that you choose a sponsor that is your own sex. (If you’re straight; LGBT people may feel more comfortable with the opposite sex.) So you'll start to trust and confide in a male regularly pretty early in recovery. That's a big part of male bonding.

You'll need to tell your sponsor a lot of things about yourself. You'll work the steps with them, call them when you feel like drinking or drugging, and generally let them get to know you pretty ewell.

As you stay sober a more extended period, you’ll know people from meetings quite well. After all, you will all be sharing to each other regularly. You’ll find that when you’re with people you trust, it’s easier to hang out and bond. And that’s how people really bond, anyway; by being honest and being themselves.

Sober Living Can Help

Many people find that it's beneficial to start life after treatment by entering sober living arrangements. In sober housing, you'll live with other guys who have the same goals. You'll also have support and structure to rely on when you need it. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn more.

The media in the world we live in perpetuates a lot of stereotypes. For as far back as many of us can remember, men have been portrayed as stoic and “tough”. As boys, you probably played a lot of pretend “alpha male” games such as cowboy, fireman, and other roles. While these roles are great in the movies, the role of man in society today is changing. Men can, and do, have emotions all of the time. Sometimes men suffer from mental health issues, too.

Talking about these types of issues can feel difficult at first, but now, more than ever, men (especially men in recovery!) are discovering that opening up about their mental health is important.

Everyone Struggles With Emotions Sometimes

Even Prince Harry, in fact, recently opened up to talkl about his personal struggles after his mother’s death. He experienced long periods of both anxiety and rage. As a member of Englands’ royal family, he was provided with all the resources he needed to recover and learn to manage his emotions effectively.

A lot of your experiences with expressing emotions may have been limited by the family you grew up with. Some families discourage showing emotions or talking about feelings. If this is your family, think about how it has worked out for you.Talking to people about feelings can be scary, but in recovery, emotions happen whether you want them to or not. Learning to cope with feelings is a huge part of learning to live without the use of alcohol or drugs.

Mental Health Matters! Please Ask for Help

Many people in recovery also struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Talk therapy and other modes of self-care can help you learn to master your emotions and mental health symptoms.

Some people find that meditation helps them relax if they do it a few times a week. Exercise can also help boost endorphins, creating feel-good chemicals that combat depressive feelings.

The number one thing you can do if you’re struggling with emotions or mental health issues is ASK FOR HELP. No one can help you get better if you don’t tell them something is wrong. If you suspect you have a mental health disorder, ask friends or family to help you seek out a therapy provider or psychiatrist to help you with your symptoms.

You are worth it! If you are feeling lonely, down, depressed, or anxious, reach out to your support network. You’ll probably find somebody else has felt the same way you do and has suggestions.

Looking for San Diego Sober Living?

Many people find that sober living situations help smooth the transition from treatment to their daily world. Many people just like you have sought comfort, hope and inspiration in our sober living environment as they rebuild their lives. Learn more about how you can live in our structured, support homes post-detox or rehab. Call us at 760-216-2077.

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