Post-rehabilitation recovery support programs can be gender-specific or coed. Men and women, whether LGBTQIA or not, can join mutual support groups or live in coed sober living homes. However, many men and women benefit from living in gender-specific housing, attending gender-specific rehabilitation, and seeking gender-specific support groups.
Men face treatment obstacles that women do not, so seeking out safe residences, including male-only sober living homes, can benefit men who want to work on long-term recovery from drug or alcohol abuse.
Benefits of Male-Only Recovery Programs
In general, men abuse intoxicating substances more often than women, especially alcohol and illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine. This means that, typically, more men than women enter treatment, although men are often more resistant to seeking treatment for substance abuse than women. While women tend to escalate substance abuse faster and struggle with co-occurring mental illness more often than their male counterparts, men tend to abuse substances chronically and for longer periods of time. They also struggle with related health conditions more often.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that, in 2012, there were 1,743,346 treatment admissions in various rehabilitation programs across the United States, including Puerto Rico. Of those, 1,160,225 admissions were male, and 583,121 admissions were female.
From a cultural perspective, asking for help is something men are taught to avoid. During intake for detox and rehabilitation, SAMHSA recommends that clinicians work to alleviate the stress of male clients asking for help. Recovery options, including sober living homes, often apply this recommendation, creating an emotionally safe environment for male residents in all-male homes.
Often, men approach treatment from a structural perspective, preferring therapy that emphasizes personal responsibility and goals to individually changing their behaviors. Men state that they prefer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on talking through the reactions that cause specific behaviors and how to change those behaviors; women, in contrast, prefer emotionally focused therapy.
Men are also more likely than women to become aggressive or competitive during treatment. They are more likely than women to develop a combative relationship with therapists and peers in support groups. They are more likely to feel embarrassed about disclosing emotions during therapy sessions.
Male-led therapy sessions, male-only rehabilitation programs, men’s support groups, and male-focused recovery, including gender-specific sober living homes, are available options that may take care to address these issues. When male clients feel they are in a safe environment, they understand the goals of treatment, and they are given specific steps, they can greatly benefit from rehabilitation and recovery programs.
Gay Men and Recovery from Substance Abuse
Gay men are at greater risk for substance abuse and addiction compared to heterosexual populations. They are also at an increased risk for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse – the stress of which contributes to the increased risk of addiction; however, substance abuse also makes them more vulnerable to these forms of abuse.
- Suicidal ideation
- Attempted suicide
- Running away from home and subsequent homelessness
- Sexual exploitation and transmitted infections
Young gay men are at greater risk for severe mood disturbances, including:
Gay culture puts additional pressure on gay males to abuse drugs to decrease stress, boost sociability, and increase sexual availability. Substances may be associated with positive personal outcomes, a specific friends group, and emotional support.
Male-focused support does not necessarily provide relief from sexual or romantic relationships for gay men, but it can provide an emotionally supportive environment without fear of outside stereotyping, heterosexism, or toxic masculinity perpetrated by women. Additionally, male-only recovery groups and living in male-only sober living homes may help gay men find likeminded men to support their sobriety while relearning how to socialize without drugs or alcohol.
Sober Living Homes for Men
Sober living homes are primarily designed to provide a safe, drug-and-alcohol-free residence. While rules vary, residents are typically required to have a stable job or focus on education, provide their own food and finances, attend house meetings, attend therapy or supports group regularly, and submit to routine drug testing to ensure sobriety.
Like other forms of co-housing, there is some socializing at sober living homes. Some of these programs invite clinicians to the house for group therapy, but more often, residents will be required to attend house meetings and then seek therapy and mutual support elsewhere. Still, living with other residents in recovery can provide an important emotional support network for those working to change their behaviors toward drugs and alcohol.
While many people may find coed sober living homes beneficial, men and women may find the presence of the other gender distracting or threatening. The presence of other genders may trigger stressful memories, like instances of intimate partner abuse, or it may lead residents to struggle with societal stereotypes that can undermine therapy. Because more men than women enter treatment, there may be very few women residing in a coed sober living home, which can have a negative impact on both male and female residents.
Male-only sober residences provide the same kind of psychological support as male-only rehabilitation programs and support groups. It may be an important transitional step for men who still need emotional support and a safe environment in which to express themselves.
Finding a Male-Only Sober Living Home
Finding a nearby sober living home may start with a referral from a treatment program. It may also help to ask administrators, counselors, case managers, or social workers at hospitals, physicians’ clinics, or therapists’ offices for recommendations, especially when searching for a male-only residence.
The National Alliance on Recovery Residences (NARR) has several state-based affiliates, so searching their website for accredited sober homes may be beneficial. The Intervention America website also offers listings of sober living homes by state; these residences will state whether they are gender-specific or coed.