Men, we know, often experience trauma throughout the course of their lives. It can be something that occurs during childhood, during adolescent years, or during adulthood. People who struggle with addiction often are more likely to have experienced some sort of traumatic event due to the things that can happen over the course of active addiction.
What we do know is that men, due to societal norms, often experience and understand emotion differently. From a young age, many boys are taught you need to be strong. You need to be tough. You need to not cry or show your emotions. Men, over the course of their lives, reinforce those beliefs and social norms that have been instilled upon them. As a result, they don’t necessarily understand the emotions they may experience when they first stop using, especially after they face a traumatic event that may have caused them to repress that memory or emotion.
In terms of addiction treatment, someone who has experienced trauma or has not really had the ability to understand or experience emotions they may be feeling for the first time may struggle to open up about their emotions. They may struggle to voice their feelings about active addiction and its effects, their mental health issues, or traumatic events that happened to them in the past. When a man has a hard time experiencing, discussing, and understanding his emotions, he might be more likely to shut down and not get what he needs in terms of treatment, whether that be an individual session or a group therapy session. This directly impacts the effectiveness of not only addiction treatment or mental health treatment, but also treatment of the root trauma itself.