Don’t cry. Don’t talk about your feelings because no one wants to hear it. Be strong and competitive. Compliment women, but don’t expect to be complimented back.
Sound familiar? Chances are high that many, if not all of you, were taught these behaviors as a child or witness these characteristics in books, movies, television shows and songs.
These stereotypes of what a “real” man looks like aren’t new. But they still have a powerful effect on a man’s perceptions, beliefs and behaviors. And oftentimes, pressure to maintain a charade of masculinity leads to substance abuse and an inability to seek necessary treatment.
What You Need to Know about Traditional Masculinity Ideology
Traditional masculinity ideology, or “toxic masculinity,” is defined by researchers as a set of behaviors and beliefs about what a man should be. These behaviors and beliefs include:
- Maintaining an appearance of toughness
- Suppressing emotions and masking any pain or distress
- Acting tough serves as an indication of power and strength
What this means is men are taught that if they show or talk about their feelings, play with the wrong toys, dress the wrong way or don’t participate in sports or any competitive activities, they’ll be seen as weak.
And these cultural norms can actually have lasting effects on how a man lives his life. In fact, a 2016 study conducted by Indiana University Bloomington found that men who conform to traditional masculine ideologies and pressures exhibit greater levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
The Double-Edged Sword: How Toxic Masculinity Leads to Addiction and Affects Treatment
Cultural masculinity norms put a lot of pressure on men to act a certain way. And as the researchers at Indiana University Bloomington found, keeping emotions hidden and trying to be “macho” and independent all the time can lead to mental health challenges like depression and anxiety.
When this happens, it’s almost like a domino effect. Men struggling with their mental health are more likely to try to cope with it on their own rather than talk about it and seek help. And one common way people try to relieve symptoms of mental health disorders is by drinking or using drugs.
In many cases, this alcohol or drug use turns into a serious dual diagnosis disorder that requires credible and experienced addiction treatment. Unfortunately, even seeking treatment becomes a challenge because many men experience feelings of shame, guilt and a fear of being seen as weak or a failure.
Traditional masculine ideologies not only create the perfect storm of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can lead to addiction, but they also make it difficult for men to open up about their struggles and seek help.
The good news is, there is hope for recovery – both from addiction and toxic masculinity. Once in a credible treatment program, you’ll get to the bottom of your substance abuse and free yourself from cultural norms that have held you back and pressured you to be someone you’re not.
Ways to Defy Toxic Masculinity and Ask for Help with Your Addiction
There’s no question that asking for help with your substance abuse is hard. But one of the best ways to push through the fear of how people will react or how you’ll be treated is to remember all the powerful reasons to get treatment:
- No more isolation. Misery loves company, as they say. Substance abuse is tied closely to toxic masculinity because they both thrive off isolation and negativity. But you don’t deserve that misery and it isn’t how you should live your life. Addiction treatment is your opportunity to break free from all that and learn how to live a happy, fulfilling life again.
- Your life. The world is not a better place without you. Beating addiction and taking back control of your life removes you from a dangerous path that was leading you towards a fatal overdose.
- Your Family. If your life doesn’t motivate you enough, think of your family and friends. Even if you’ve pushed them away or hurt them with your addiction, they still love you. They want to see you recover and return to being the person they used to know. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, kids or another member of your family, use them as your motivation to seek treatment.
- You’re not alone. While it may feel like it sometimes, you’re not the only one who has struggled with toxic masculinity and needed help to overcome addiction. In fact, we have alumni like Chris who was able to get his life back on track. Use testimonials like his to inspire you to take back control of your life and seek addiction rehab.
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Once you’ve built up the courage and motivation, it’s time to actually ask for help. Here are some ideas that you can try:
- Tell someone you trust. Who is the one person you trust more than anybody else in this world? Who is someone you’ve been able to rely on in the past who hasn’t judged you? Reach out to them and do your best to explain what you’re going through. They can be the first person in your support system who can help you get the treatment you need.
- Ask for help in a letter. Writing can be extremely freeing, especially when you’re too scared or nervous to talk to someone in person. Writing a letter gives you a chance to be very purposeful with your words and explain exactly what you’re thinking, feeling and going through.
- Talk to your doctor. Medical professionals have seen and heard a lot, so you can take comfort in knowing that what you’re going through isn’t going to phase them. They’re trained to help people and take your medical needs seriously, so don’t be afraid to open up to them.
- Reach out online. If you don’t feel like you can turn to anyone in your life for support, try to reach out anonymously through chat rooms or websites like Reddit. You’ll find people going through similar situations as you who can provide support and recommend where to go for help.
Contact an addiction treatment center. Credible addiction treatments centers like The Raleigh House are here for you when you need help. There’s no judgment, shame or guilt that you need to worry about. When you call The Raleigh House, our priority is getting you the treatment and recovery you deserve.
Start Your Recovery at The Raleigh House Today
As a premier addiction treatment center in Colorado that has over 10 years of experience helping thousands of people achieve recovery, we know how to help you recover from addiction and break free from toxic masculinity.
When you’re ready to get started, fill out our form or contact us to talk to one of our friendly and resourceful team members.