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Updated: May 12, 2023
Men, Trauma and Healing in Recovery
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
If you or a loved one is looking for a safe and sober home in North County San Diego, call 760-216-2077. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.