Men are created with unique and specific needs. When searching for a Christian drug and alcohol treatment program, understanding the needs of men specifically is vital to the long-term success of the program. What specifically should you look for when searching for a program?
#1. Understand a man’s greatest need is respect.
A man has been wired to desire and need respect. In fact, respect is the greatest expression of love a man can receive. By his very nature, a man looks to be respected for his competency in his position as an employee, husband and father. He wants to know that at a core level that he has worth – and that the people around him believes in what he is accomplishing. A man feels disrespected when his authority is negated or defied, his decisions are met with criticism or rejection, or when he feels controlled or “mothered” rather than lovingly submitted to. When a man doesn’t feel respected, he feels unloved…and that hurts. So he turns to something that will take the pain of rejection away such as alcohol or drugs. Even if the man has lost the respect of others, his need for it doesn’t disappear and he needs the opportunity by others around him to regain it. At New Life Spirit Recovery, we help our men clients connect with the love of God so they can regain respect for themselves and rebuild respect with others.
#2. Understand a man’s need to be productive.
God has commissioned man to work by the sweat of his brow (Gen. 3:19). So, deep within the soul of man is the need to be productive with his life. When a man isn’t working for a significant amount of time, he will feel unproductive and run the risk of falling into depression and he begins to lose his sense of purpose. The longer a man perceives himself as being “unproductive” or loses his sense of purpose, the deeper depression and hopelessness sets in. This can literally kill a man. When a man retires from the workforce, unless he has a hobby or is involved in meaningful volunteer work, it is not uncommon for the man to become very sick or even die a few years after retirement. This is why one of the reasons for addiction among men is their loss of vocation, identity and purpose. We attempt to help our male clients to discover that God is our identity and purpose giver and that we are not what we do, but rather who we are to God that He loves. Then as God’s identity and value dwells within us, what we produce moving forward in life will have eternal purpose and rewards, not just earthly ones.
#3. Understand a man’s need to feel and communicate.
We have been taught from a very young age that, “Big boys don’t cry!”. We grow up learning to bury our feelings. Then we grow up as men suppressing our feelings with the inability to effectively communicate what we feel. The reason we have feelings and emotions is because God has feelings and emotions and we were created in His image. Feelings were never meant to be held in or sedated…they were meant to be expressed. We help our men clients to connect with their feelings and effectively communicate them. If we don’t engage our feelings and learn how to communicate what we feel, those feelings will come out whether we want them to or not…usually in unhealthy and destructive behaviors such as addiction. It isn’t easy for most men to start feeling after years of not feeling and to start effectively communicating these feelings without some assistance…and this is what we help our men clients with at New Life Spirit Recovery. What’s so exciting is that once that treasure chest of emotions is opened, the treasures inside are improved physical, emotional and spiritual healing, less internal stress and thriving relationships.
#4. Understand a man’s need for emotional intimacy
From a very young age, men are taught to avoid appearing weak at all costs. Perceived “weakness” includes things like complaining, divulging fears or concerns, and expressing self-doubt or worry. A man’s partner is his safe space to fall. He needs to feel that he can expose the cracks in his armor and know that his partner is there to help him heal. A man needs to make sure that when he first cries in front of his wife or girlfriend, that she won’t be repelled or handle it poorly. If he is pushed away or is unable to be nurtured when he needs it the most, he will no longer trust his loved one with his emotions. He will remove himself somewhat from the relationship, or he will attempt to find another friend who won’t push him away like alcohol or drugs. In this instance, both partners lose…he goes on silently suffering and believing that he is flawed in his imperfection, and she is held at arm’s length emotionally or even physically. Ultimately, it is our intimacy with God that will allow us to stand in our weaknesses, acknowledge and embrace them, and with all humility allow God’s strength and His loving perspective of who we are to Him to get us through all of life’s struggles.
#5. Understand a man’s need for praise and approval.
Men have very tender egos. We need frequent reassurance about ourselves, our career paths, our importance as partners and our attractiveness. A man loves to hear what exactly his partner finds attractive about him just as much as a woman does. A man periodically needs to be told by his partner what she loves so much about him. He likes to hear when he is told how attractive he is when he says something a certain way, when he accomplishes something, or when he does something unexpected or out of his comfort zone. If the client is not married or the client’s spouse in unable or unwilling to give the praise and approval that man desires, we attempt to help them connect with God at such an intimate level that they find contentment in the love, praise and approval of their Heavenly Father.
#6. Understand a man’s need for physical touch.
Men do desire and need frequent non-sexual touch. If a man’s partner comes up behind him and touches his neck and hair in a loving way while he sits absorbed in a task, he experiences a sense of closeness, acceptance and approval. This touch is interpreted as physical love. The message he feels is…“I love you, and I want you to feel happy all the time. Know that I’m always here for you and I care for you deeply.” Gary Smalley a Christian Marriage and Family Counselor says that the average person needs eight significant touches a day in order to feel loved and accepted.
#7. Understand a man’s need for space.
Suffocating a man (either by failing to allow him free time, or with overly jealous behavior, or trying to work his program for him when he comes home from rehab) is the fastest way to stress out or even destroy a relationship. Men need breathing room. We need time for our hobbies, time with our healthy friends, and time to plunk away on our projects to feel fulfilled. God is a God of freedom…not of control. God is freedom because freedom lives in love and God is love. God gives us the freedom to love or to hate, to obey or disobey, to accept or reject…and He gives us this freedom because He loves us. But He does not give anyone (including Himself) the freedom to control anyone. To do so would violate the first gift He gives us…free will. In our Family Program, we meet with the family members of our clients to help them through their hurts and offenses as the result of living with addiction in the home. We also prepare the family members how to receive and relate with the client when he comes back home so that there can be a level of accountability without slipping into a “control” mode.
At New Life Spirit Recovery, we believe a man’s true identity is found in Jesus Christ. Learning to embrace the design of a man is a deeply rich and purposeful journey. If you know someone who needs help, please don’t hesitate to get help today! Learn more about the clinical activities we use to take a man out of bondage and into freedom in Christ. Call us at 866.543.3361 or learn more about our treatment program by clicking here.