If addiction is a lonely disease, then a successful recovery depends on camaraderie and mutual support. This goes for both women and men in addiction treatment. In fact, many experts say that true healing begins when men make themselves vulnerable and reveal their authentic selves in a community of other men.
The Benefits of “Bromances”
A strong bond among men, often called a “bromance,” is proven to be pretty powerful when it comes to managing stress. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that social interactions among men increase levels of oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is often called “the cuddle hormone” because it is released when people bond. Oxytocin plays a role in empathy, trust and relationship-building.
In this study, researchers found that male rats become more cooperative and increasingly social when put in a mildly stressful situation together. They even huddled together, which led to increases in oxytocin in the brain. “A bromance can be a good thing,” lead author Elizabeth Kirby said in a press release. “Males are getting a bad rap when you look at animal models of social interactions, because they are assumed to be instinctively aggressive. But even rats can have a good cuddle — essentially a male-male bromance — to help recover from a bad day.”
This research also provides insight for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since social interactions can buffer you against stress – and PTSD can cause you to withdraw from social interactions that can provide support – the researchers believe this study suggests that life-threatening stress can cause you to lose the effects of oxytocin.
According to the experts at Psychology Today, there are multiple health benefits linked to increases in oxytocin, including:
- Decreased pain and improved healing speed
- Lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- Increased generosity and altruism
How Male Bonding Can Help
Male bonding can certainly have specific benefits when it comes to getting and staying sober. Let’s take a look at a few ways bromances with your male recovery peers can enhance your addiction treatment:
- You’ll be more open and honest. This includes being honest about your addiction and your recovery needs. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable will allow you to form a bond with other men in recovery. In turn, you can share stories and learn from the experiences of others.
- You’ll explore trauma. Along the same lines, sharing stories can help you become aware of any past traumas that may have influenced your substance use disorder.
- You’ll eliminate toxic emotions like shame. When you allow yourself to be surrounded by the support of other men who have been in your shoes, you’ll come to realize that you’re not “bad” and that you’re worthy of care, respect and sobriety.
- You’ll build a strong support system. The male relationships you develop in rehab can provide a foundation of support and motivation once you move through the stages of recovery and live a sober life on your own.
- You’ll tap into your spirituality. Being spiritual doesn’t have to mean being religious. In fact, you may find a power greater than yourself among the deep connection with the men in rehab who, like you, are fighting day to day to stay sober.
Gender-Specific Treatment at Spearhead
Numerous studies have shown that gender specific environments are more effective for those in early recovery. Our men-only recovery program encourages peer support and community for young adult males looking to move past their addiction. To learn more, call today: 866-905-4550.