Confronting the “Macho Mentality” in Recovery

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Recovery and masculinity are often portrayed at odds with each other. Even if an individual has benefitted from a dedicated treatment program, the expectations and perceptions of what it means to be “manly” can be a massive barrier when moving out of the recovery sphere. 

However, this mentality and its expectations are imparted upon an individual by others and may not entirely reflect how an individual truly feels. Releasing this kind of mentality can be exceptionally difficult, as it can be directly tied to the culture of one’s family and upbringing, or even of entire communities where one lives, and even after an individual has navigated a treatment program, moving back into these communities can create a number of difficult situations.  

What Is the “Macho Mentality?”

“Macho mentality,” macho culture, or otherwise hypermasculinized mindsets can be difficult to escape, and certain traits are expected of males that may not truly reflect parts of one’s identity. This kind of thinking can lead to an individual acting against their own best interest in an effort to fit into these expectations. 

The macho mentality often comes with a degree of being able to “take care of oneself.” While caring for oneself is good, it can become a detriment when an individual begins to eschew help in their lives where they may otherwise need it in order to maintain this facade of masculinity. 

The idea of actually caring for oneself becomes lost in translation. Traditional expectations like “men don’t cry” or “a real man can hold his liquor” are not only dangerous but often created out of fictitious assumptions of masculinity rather than reflections of the realistic needs of each person. 

This mentality also tends to come paired with an air of competition. Those ascribed a macho mentality are often expected to exude classic “masculine” traits against their own interests, such as physical prowess or being a grillmaster. 

However, the atmosphere created with this masculine framework can also birth a wealth of unnecessary competition, creating a scenario where an individual is not just expected to exemplify the expected masculine traits, but must do so more than anyone else in the room, further distancing an individual from their own needs or identity. 

The Dangers of This Mentality

Adopting these mentalities, living within communities or cultures where these kinds of traits are expected, and coping with the social consequences if an individual does not tend to embody these attributes comes at a hefty cost. Not only can an individual find themselves wrapped up in the mentality to the detriment of their own personal interests, but it can also lead an individual to further push down their own needs, especially in regards to alcohol use or other substances, as well as one’s mental health. 

Fear of portraying any kind of mental or physical weakness can be a debilitating feeling, often leading an individual to convince others that they are okay despite whatever feelings they may be harboring that suggest otherwise. Hiding or making excuses for one’s drinking can become common, as these excuses intend to help an individual save face rather than admit any kind of vulnerability. 

Similar expectations can cause an individual to compromise their own mental health, with the “macho” thing to do being to steel one’s nerves even if anxiety, stress, and depression continue to build. Addressing these vulnerabilities can be a significant shift in perspective, but one that is also necessary to help an individual begin to process and overcome these feelings and struggles. 

Even if an individual has been through a treatment program, moving back into these communities or families who have not changed their perspectives can create a number of risks for one’s continued sobriety. Social expectations or misconceptions about addiction can not just make explaining the process of addiction recovery difficult, but expectations may quickly be reset upon an individual, making urges and the chance of relapse ever-threatening.

How to Release the Macho Mentality

One’s recovery journey is their own. While the macho mentality’s power rests in its social impact and the perceptions of others, recovery is a wholly individual experience – a personal journey with an individual setting their own goals for the future. Moving back into a space riddled with the macho mentality can be exceptionally difficult, but continuing to reinforce the individualized aspect of recovery learned at a treatment facility can help an individual distance themselves from the expectations if they are willing to adopt one’s newfound perspective.

Likewise, an individual always has the opportunity to select their own communities. Fellow alumni from one’s treatment program, professionals, and even peers just beginning their own recovery journey can ingratiate themselves into one’s life, exemplifying the fallacies set about by a macho mentality and providing the supportive and recovery-focused network needed to continue keeping one’s newfound sober perspective in focus. 

Keeping connected with supports to unapologetically pursue one’s newfound sober interests can reinforce one’s decisions to relinquish these debilitating, self-destructive ways of thinking to retain one’s focus on oneself established during one’s time in a treatment facility. 

The “macho mentality” can be an overwhelming and challenging perspective, and one’s environment and community can reinforce these toxic mentalities to one’s detriment. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the difficulties presented as a result of this mentality and are prepared to work with you to distance yourself from self-destructive modes of thinking and work towards your own needs and goals. Whether you are taking your first step into recovery or are learning to combat these mentalities as an alumnus, we are prepared to meet you where you are in your recovery journey. Our program provides individual and group therapies backed by art, writing, yoga, music, mindfulness practices, and much more, all within a homey and supportive environment. For more information on how we can support you in your recovery journey, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique circumstance, call Everlast Recovery Centers today at (866) 338-6925.

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