Breaking the Stigma for Men in Recovery – John Fecteau, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor


Coming up on 822 at FM 97.3 WZBG, check the calendar. Third Wednesday of the month, we catch up with the folks from the Recall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. based in Taranton. This morning we want to welcome John Fecto, who’s a clinical supervisor for McCall. Welcome to the program. Thanks, John. Thanks for having me. Thanks for joining us. We’re a little bit about how we approach treatment for men who may be battling addiction or have some issues. Because the skies are a little different sometimes in the way we process problems. So I guess that would require a little bit of a unique approach or maybe just a modified approach to getting at the root and finding solutions. Right. We intend to restrict emotion a lot more, we’re socialized to be sort of man up, really problem-solving, focused.

We talk about our problems in metaphor. Right. And we ask for help much less frequently than women do in general. And it’s the way we’re socialized. And that can lead to a number of different problems from men are more three times more likely to overdose. They’re more likely to start using substances, especially alcohol at earlier ages and at larger amounts. And this not asking for help is also a huge problem because we’re also three and a half times more likely to die by suicide. Right. And a lot about suicide these days because the rates are really frightening. Women are more likely to talk about suicide. There’s your cry for help. Men are more likely to complete it.

Generally speaking, yes. And so some of what we try to do is our outpatient services are intensive outpatient outpatient services. We offer a variety of groups and individual. We have gender specific programming because a lot of times men are more apt to be comfortable talking in a gender specific environment and a men’s group, for instance, because you can tackle this issue head on. And also when people come in, we don’t expect them to be at the stage of change where they’re going to be jumping for joy to be in treatment. So we recognize all these socialization issues when they come in. And we really take a stage of change approach with them. Realizing that in the beginning, people will often be defensive, sometimes even angry. And you have to get past all that. But the interesting thing is once people manage to get past that and realize that asking for help can yield some pretty big rewards, the better you are at talking about emotions and managing them, the more effective you are at managing emotional situations and stressful situations that tend to lead to substance abuse in the first place.

And so one of the things we also try to focus on with people, especially if they have that sense that I have to take care of this myself, is if you want more independence in your life, asking for help actually gets you to that point. Well, those guys are, we try to be problem solvers. Women, and I don’t mean to stereotype or characterize, but women like to, when they’re ready to talk about a problem, they will tease it apart, they will analyze it. Guys are like, I know my problem is X, I know the solution is Y, and I’m going to do it, stay out of my way. But without getting to the root cause, without teasing it apart and finding the root of it, you’re going to find yourself back there eventually, right? Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. You know, I think that’s a real reality. And I think, by and large, like we said before, men typically have a really hard time even identifying the emotion to begin with, let alone talking about it.

And a lot of that is the way we’re socialized. And that’s changing over time, but it’s still a pretty deep-seated thing in our society. Is it, do different guys have their breakthrough moment different ways? I mean, you’ve been at this a while, right? So I think you can probably see when you’re starting to break through by a lot of body language and stuff. And like for everybody, does it very person to person? And you’ve got to kind of tailor your approach, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think like I mentioned before, a stage of change approaches something that we really try to take, because it’s individualized. Everyone is different. Yeah. You know, we offer a lot of services as far as medication management.

Sometimes people need help with depression and early stages of recovery and so on, as well as other mental health conditions. We also offer medicated assisted treatment to give people a little bit more of a leg up. So a lot of what we do is we really look for that moment where we give the support, we give the information, we try to process through identifying these emotions and being able to talk about them. But you’re right, you do see this moment where people sort of body language starts to change a little bit, they tend to open up a little bit more. And one of the things I personally have seen quite a bit is people seem to reach this sort of turning point. And once they turn that, this light goes on. And I think that’s the message that is important for men to understand that there is hope in that. If you put this sort of scary effort in up front, there’ll be a point where you turn that corner and this light goes on and there’s a huge change.

I mean, I’ve seen night and day change in people before where all of a sudden they’re able to cope with stressors that they were never able to cope with before without being higher drunk. That they’re able to, you know, be much more effective in relationships. Very much more effective at work. You know, this sense of control over your life and it is something that really just sort of turns on. You know, it’s really interesting to see that light go on and it happens. It happens quite often if people make that first step and start to engage in treatment. Now, what is that first step quite often? Lots of folks who are battling addiction, they’ve got to get to that bottom. They’ve got to find that bottom before they make that first step, which is the actual reaching out and saying, I need help. Right. Well, you know, that bottom is something that people talk about a lot, but basically it’s the point at which the consequences outweigh the rewards of that realization and that realization.

We try to make it as easy as possible. I mean, if you call, just calling our main number, that 8604962100, we’ll just guide you from there. And you know, find the right program for you, find the right level of care for you. And we try to make access to treatment really easy. You know, it’s a phone call. And then at that point, we start the ball rolling with them and try to guide you through that. And people aren’t expected to come in the door, you know, gung ho and you know, super excited about treatment. And we realize that. It’s a tough call to make. But if people make that first call, we try to make it as easy as possible from there and really work with you to be comfortable and start to make some of this progress that everyone can make.

John, in fact, there was clinical supervisor for the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and help ink. We’re talking about men seeking treatment, some ways in which we try to reach through and work towards some solutions. We’ve got about a minute just to really sum up. Isn’t it amazing how fast this time goes? It goes very quickly. I want to give you a chance just as a final takeaway if there’s a guy out there, a man out there who’s been battling some issues and is finally ready to take that first step. Just leave him with a closing thought. Well, a closing thought really is that it’s possible. And I think a lot of times people are so feel like they’re so in deep that they know something has to change, but they just don’t know how it’s going to happen, how it’s going to start. And even though your brain is telling you sometimes that there’s no hope that, you know, this is just the way things are, take that extra step.

And because there will be a point if you put the work in, there will be a point at which you stop and say, wow, you know, my life is so much better than it was before. And it really just took making that initial call and just starting the process. And then we help guide you through from there. John, a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you. Thanks so much. All the best to you and everybody got McCall and help ink and we’ll see you guys next time. Thank you very much. Thank you.