Tag Archives: drug addiction recovery

Saying “Man Up” Hurts Men: Here’s Why


“Man up.” “Get over it.” “Grow up.” “Don’t cry.”

How often do we tell young and adult men to “man up” and that they shouldn’t be bothered by this or that? This has been our culture. And with so much debate in the media about what a man is supposed to be like (and what he is like, but isn’t supposed to be), this is a period of great ordeal for men.

We need to sustain balance between what has traditionally been considered a man’s role in our culture, while also being connected to others and finding ways to let our sensitive side shine through. All the while, we are also to live our lives and thrive and maintain our sanity. The real “man up” is when you show integrity to your soft and strong sides.

Telling a Man to “Man Up” Hurts Their Human Integrity

men affected by trauma have the sense of feeling to man up in situations that they feel powerless in.Every society has its own, often implicit, set of rules of how people should behave in different situations. It also has a set of very specific rules for what a man ought to be like to meet the standards set by others. While women are also expected to be a certain way, the requirements put in front of men are much more rigid and, often, much more noxious. In our Western society, a man is still expected to be reliable, completely self-sufficient, never weak, and never visibly emotional (the only exception to this rule is a public display of anger).

These norms are so entrenched into our worldview they may seem completely natural. Evolutionary science suggests that men were once brave hunters of mammoths, and a modern man is, implicitly, expected to behave as if he were chasing a prehistoric mammal for food. Yet, this isn’t the case anymore, and modern men do get to be different today than they were when they had to struggle to survive each day.

What Is Masculine Gender Role Stress (MGRS)

What’s so harmful about these demands put on men is the fact that the image of a sturdy, composed, unemotional and tough man defies our natural response to stress. Men are told that their natural response to stress is a sign of weakness. But stress is a reality for all humans. And still, men are told to “man up” and take it, suppressing all our natural reactions apart from wrath.

Men also experience another type of stress related to gender. The stress that comes with wanting to comply with the requirements of rigid masculinity is called masculine gender role stress (MGRS), and it presents an increasingly pressing issue for modern men. Research shows that suffering from MGRS is associated with a range of physical and psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and outbursts of anger. Sometimes it can even contribute to the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And what makes things even more problematic is the fact that MGRS usually stops us from seeking professional help when we need it.

How Masculine Gender Role Stress Prevents Us From Seeking Help

Adding to the above problems, MGRS seriously jeopardizes a man’s coping skills. Due to fear of failing society’s expectations on how we should behave, what suffers the most is our willingness to seek help. Whether it’s reaching out to people close to us or contacting a professional to assist us with accumulated stress and other issues we’re dealing with, if we’re prone to MGRS, we probably won’t do it.

This is because men are expected to be emotionally strong and maintain composure under all circumstances. So asking for any sort of help is really admitting we’re not capable of dealing with our own emotions. We’re not in control. Expressing anxiety in front of others is unimaginable to some men. Even admitting it to ourselves, when we strongly incorporated the society’s expectations into our self-image, is hard. This is why we will avoid seeking professional help for as long as possible.

Instead, as research shows, we begin to get worse and worse at coping. MGRS both causes stress and dysfunction when dealing with it. Instead of getting help and learning the healthy ways of tackling this problem, we rest on a range of maladaptive reactions. We become even more emotionally inexpressive, we start to rely on aggression, power, and control to get us through, and we become obsessed with achievement and success. All of which is only a contributor to further stress and ordeal.

How a Psychotherapist Can Help

First of all, a man needs to know that approaching a psychotherapist doesn’t mean he’s weak. On the contrary, it means he knows how to utilize all the means available to him to be the best version of himself. When you have a toothache, you don’t go about and fix your own tooth. And it doesn’t make you less of a man to seek help from a dentist. See, it’s just a matter of perspective. And it truly is a sign of being aware of the age we’re living in and not allowing rigid misperceptions to run our life.

Furthermore, you don’t have to be afraid of the psychotherapist making you spill your soul and break into tears. Not at all. A skillful psychotherapist will use a range of techniques and skills to help you work through your issues without disrespecting your barriers to being emotional. For example, if you find it difficult or feel embarrassed to talk about your emotions, you will use metaphors with your psychotherapist to address everything that’s bothering you without causing further distress. Once you get a hold on this, you may eventually start to approach all of your emotions with ease and learn to cope with them.

Men are under a lot of pressure, and it can be detrimental for their health, physical and psychological. It can hinder our success and self-development. It can affect every aspect of our lives. But if we just liberate ourselves from the conviction that we would be considered weak and incompetent if we were to seek professional help, we would be able to unlock all our potential to limitless expansion of our abilities. With the right psychotherapist, the success is around the corner.

by Stephen Rodgers, LCSW

Counseling for Young & Adult Men

About the Author

My practice focuses exclusively on men’s mental health and uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy (think: zen therapy) and EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy) to help men cope with trauma, anxiety, grief, depression, perceived failure, work stress, relationships, men’s health issues and the many other challenges that affect men uniquely. I always tell men, if they just open the door and give counseling a try, they are almost always going to find it a good experience and a healthy complement to their fitness or coaching plans if they are seeking overall health.

What to Eat During Recovery: Regaining Energy and Health Through Nutrition

Healthy foodEnough can’t be said about the importance of good nutrition to an effective and long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Like a good night’s sleep, eating the right foods in the right amounts can set the tone for your entire day, allowing you to let the little things go and handle the big things without risk of relapse.

Benefits of Good Nutrition During Drug Addiction Recovery

The following are just a few of the good things that you can get from doing something as simple as eating right:

  • Enough energy to get through the day without feeling tired or worn down
  • Lower cravings for alcohol and drugs
  • Better quality of sleep and length of good sleep
  • Increased ability to concentrate and focus
  • Lower anxiety and depression related to withdrawal symptoms and the transition that occurs during first year of life after addiction
  • Get weight gain (common in recovery) under control
  • Get your gastrointestinal system, chemical production and metabolism back on track (these often get out of balanceduring drug and alcohol addiction)

How to Get Good Nutrition During Drug Addiction Recovery

Learning how to eat healthfully and maintaining a balanced diet is hard for people who haven’t spent a large amount of time living with an addiction. It’s even more difficult when your main focus is filling your time in a positive way. It can be challenging to work to avoid relapse while also securing a new job, finding a supportive place to live and maintaining your ongoing treatment plan, which can mean therapy appointments, 12-step meetings and more. The following are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Eat breakfast – Even if it’s small, you need something to kick start your metabolism and get you through the first part of your day. A hardboiled egg, a piece of whole grain toast or a small cup of juice are all good options—just try to avoid sugary pastries and high-fat meats or breakfast sandwiches.
  • Eat 5-6 small meals – Rather than the typical three-meal schedule with large meals every time you sit down, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a morning and at least one afternoon snack, but keep everything small, about 300 calories each for women and 400-500 calories each for men. It will help maintain your metabolism and avoid overeating in any one sitting.
  • Eat from all food groups – In general, it is recommended to eat six to 11 servings of whole grains, two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables, two to three servings of lean proteins like eggs or chicken, two to three servings of dairy products and a single serving of good fats like oils and butter.[1]
  • Pay attention to serving size – One piece of bread is a grain serving. One sandwich, therefore, has two servings of grain. A serving of rice or pasta is about what will fit in the palm of your hand, not on a dinner-sized plate. Try to use smaller plates and bowls and limit juice and other drinks to eight ounces rather than oversized fast food sizes to limit extra calories.
  • Drink tons of water – Always carry a bottle of water with you and try to refill it six to eight times a day depending on its size. This will help you process the food you’re eating, get more nutrients out of that food and maintain your energy level.[2]

If you or someone you love is fighting addiction and would like help with nutrition, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. Our knowledgeable admissions counselors are ready to help connect you to the best treatment available to you. Please call today.

[1] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/

Drug Testing for Judges: Should It be Mandatory?

You have likely had to take a drug test at some point in your life. You may have had to take one before getting hired. You may have been randomly screened once or several times after beginning work. Many jobs require drug testing. One job that doesn’t is that of judge. The question is, should it?

Why Do Jobs Test for Drug Use?

Judges may not have to submit to drug tests, but a lot of us do. According to The Atlantic[1], “The best estimate is that about 40 percent of U.S. workers are currently subjected to drug tests during the hiring process.” Individuals who don’t get tested before hiring may still face random drug screens after. There are several reasons employers are eager to test for drug use.

Judge delivering verdictSafety concerns are some of the top reasons for on-the-job drug testing. U.S. News[2] shares, “Drug use, in general, is tricky for employers because it is difficult to know how long the effects may linger. Given the uncertainty, it is easier for employers to start with a drug test so that they may avoid any unnecessary risks brought about by habitual users of any drugs.” If someone drives a vehicle or operates equipment as part of their job, drug use can create serious risks. Alcohol, marijuana, painkillers and other substances seriously impact judgment and reaction time. Testing can increase safety.

Drug testing may also improve job performance. When you are using drugs, you are distracted at best. You are more likely to make errors, to create slack your coworkers have to cover, and to be absent from work for health or personal reasons.

Drug testing does more than create a safer, more productive work environment. It creates the promise of this environment.

The Society for Human Resource Management[3] (SHRM) explains, “Drug testing may even improve employee morale by demonstrating an employer’s commitment to providing a safe work environment and by keeping workers out of the awkward position of having to cover for drunk or high colleague.”

Workplaces with pre-employment screenings or random testing do not have to actually be safer or better to feel that way. Morale goes a long way toward creating healthy, happy employees. Even if drug testing doesn’t impact employee health and performance directly, it can indirectly create a better place to work.

Drug testing creates opportunities for healing. Losing your job because of drug use can be the wake-up call you need. It can cause you to take a closer look at your relationship with drugs and to consider treatment. It opens the door for conversations with loved ones, doctors, and treatment providers about options and next steps for recovery. If you job has employee assistance programs in place, you may be able to get help without even having to lose your job. Let a failed drug test or concerns about future testing provide incentive for recovery, a healthier life, and better future career prospects.

Why Don’t Judge Have to Take Drug Tests?

Workplaces and employees may benefit from drug testing. Employees are happier, and given opportunities to heal. Employers benefit from greater productivity and fewer accidents. State governments recognize that drug testing can be a good thing.

The SHRM explains, “A handful of states give employers a financial incentive by discounting workers’ compensation premiums when they test employees for drug use.”

More and more employers use testing during and after the hiring process. Despite the popularity of this practice and government recognition of its benefits, state officials and judges are exempt from testing. If drug testing is such a good thing, why is this the case?

As the American Bar Association[4] (ABA) shares, “Judges who use illegal drugs cannot provide the state and its citizens with fair and impartial trials.”

Judges do not operate machinery as part of their jobs. However they are required to be mentally focused and present. Drug use disrupts anyone’s ability to aware and make good decisions.

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse[5] shares, long-term drug use changes the brain. It directly affects a person’s:

  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Decision-making
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Behavior

We all need to be able to learn, make good decisions, manage stress, and act appropriately. This is as important for judges as anyone else. A judge’s words and actions directly impact the lives of others. Drug use by state officials can have even further-reaching effects than drug use by other individuals. Judges need to take responsibility and hold themselves accountable. Addiction can affect any person in any job, and when it does, treatment becomes an urgent personal and public health matter. Drug use calls for understanding and action. Reach out to Michael’s House. Learn how to help yourself or a loved pursue a healthy life and long, successful career.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/drug-testing-effectiveness/394850/. “The Pointlessness of the Workplace Drug Test.” The Atlantic. 4 Jun 2015. Web. 20 Apr 2017.

[2] http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/articles/2017-01-17/how-to-handle-pre-employment-drug-testing-where-marijuana-is-legal. “How to Handle Pre-Employment Drug Testing Where Marijuana is Legal.” U.S. News. 17 Jan 2017. Web. 20 Apr 2017.

[3] https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/1110zeidner.aspx. “Putting Drug Screening to the Test.” The Society for Human Resource Management. 1 Nov 2010. Web. 20 Apr 2017.

[4] http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/state_legislators_propose_mandatory_drug_testing_of_judges_and_other_state/. “State Legislators Propose Mandatory Drug Testing of Judges and Other State Officials.” American Bar Association. 1 Mar 2012. Web. 20 Apr 2017.

[5] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction. “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Aug 2016. Web. 20 Apr 2017.

Common Drug Addiction Triggers and How to Fight Them, Part I

Drug addiction triggers are the events, feelings or situations that cause those in recovery to let go of their focus on remaining clean and sober and relapse on their drug of choice. Seeing someone using your drug of choice, for example, is a common trigger, or arguing with a romantic partner has driven more than one person to relapse.

There are too many potential situations or events that can trigger relapse, so the easiest way to address the problem is to distill those issues down to the base emotion they incite in you and learn how to deal with those emotions.[i] Some of the most common triggering emotions include envy or jealousy, criticism, rejection and feeling a lack of control.

Envy and Jealousy Trigger Drug Addiction Relapse

Couple dealing with jealousyYou feel jealous when someone threatens to take something of yours: a job, a partner, reputation, etc. Envy occurs when someone else gets something that you believe you deserved: a promotion, the right to make certain decisions or money. These feelings are about justice. What’s yours is yours; you deserve to have the object of your desire, and you feel the person who has it doesn’t deserve it. You may even wish ill upon the person who has what you want. These feelings can be extremely damaging to your recovery.

Criticism Triggers Drug Addiction Relapse

Whether the criticism comes from those who would help you get better at something, those who would tear you down or from an internal source, it can be extremely difficult to take during the vulnerable period of early recovery. Many respond with anger or defense. Others respond with depression or feeling a lack of self-worth. Ultimately, feeling judged or less than due to the perceived perspective of others can lead to relapse.

Rejection Triggers Drug Addiction Relapse

No one wants to hear the word no, especially in a situation in which they have put themselves in a vulnerable position and asked for something. Peer rejection, romantic rejection and rejection that occurs in the form of abandonment by a parent—all of these are painful and can make you feel insecure in your recovery. The discomfort can make you want to relapse.

Perceived Lack of Control Triggers Drug Addiction Relapse

Everyone needs to feel that they are in control of their lives. However, many in recovery confuse being in control of their own lives and controlling the lives of others. If someone doesn’t do something that you want, it doesn’t mean that you have a lack of control in your life. If someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, they may not be trying to control you. The struggle for perceived control can be all-consuming and cause problems that end in relapse.

If you recognize the emotions above as common reactions in your life, relapse may be an issue. Relapse is common for people in recovery, but there is help available.[ii] In one of our next posts, we will look at how to handle those triggering emotions so that they don’t result in relapse and the need to return to drug rehab. Check back!

For now, if you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, please contact our admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today. We want to help you begin a new life away from drugs and help fight relapse triggers. Please call now.

[1] https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/03/5-tips-for-managing-triggers-during-addiction-recovery/

[2] https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/what-relapse