There are many treatment centers out there for people struggling with substance abuse and addiction. There is no one-size-fits-all type of treatment, but many people tend to feel more comfortable with gender-specific treatment. This type of treatment separates patients by gender and is most commonly found in residential living arrangements. These types of treatments are specifically tailored to the unique needs of men and women, based on the common experiences of each.
Let’s take a look at gender-specific treatment compared to traditional treatment programs, how drugs affect men and women differently, and how treatment can differ between genders.
Why Gender-Specific Treatment Matters
There is a growing awareness among medical professionals that gender-specific treatment during the recovery process has a wide array of benefits for both genders. Some of the reasons behind this include the following factors:
Psychological Differences Between Men and Women
Both physical and physiological differences between genders affect the way people develop addiction and how they respond to rehabilitation. While women are less likely to develop a substance abuse addiction, it can progress in their bodies much more quickly than in men and have greater physiological consequences. Stemming from differences in weight, body fat, and metabolism, the impact of long-term drug use will affect men and women differently.
Women Can Be More Vulnerable to Addiction
Women can be more vulnerable to drug addiction or abuse, and vulnerable to relapse when starting on the road to recovery. Providing a gender-specific addiction treatment environment for both men and women can help recovering addicts avoid the pitfalls of romantic relationships. This is particularly true during the early stages of the rehabilitation process.
Stigma Doesn’t Affect Both Genders Equally
There is, unfortunately, a greater stigma for women struggling with substance abuse than men. Women in particular are more likely to feel judged or condemned for “loose morals” if they seek help for drug use–especially if they are caring for small children. They may also fear having their children taken away from them by social services if they admit to struggling with drugs or alcohol.
Gender-specific treatment may help lessen this stigma. A brief visit to residential treatment centers for women will show that drug abuse affects a wide range of people, of all different religious, political, socio-economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. None of these groups is more or less likely to develop an addiction.
While these differences in background may seem significant, the underlying reason behind the addiction is where much common ground is discovered. The pressures of being a woman in the world, whether with children or without, married or single, working or staying at home, are some common examples of shared experiences.
Residential treatment centers offer a safe space for women to uncover the reasons for drug use and how to help themselves in the future. The bonds developed in these settings can run deep. That emotional support helps women overcome the social, emotional, and physical aspects of addiction, increasing their chances of reaching sobriety.
How Addiction Affects Men and Women Differently
Some aspects of addiction are universal, like withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, women in particular face some different challenges than men during recovery. This is because drugs and alcohol affect women differently than men since women generally have lower body weight and more body fat. That means a woman’s body may store the substance in cells and tissues longer, which results in needing more time for their bodies to stabilize. Therefore, women are more likely to relapse during recovery.
That makes separate treatment programs more than just a preference, but a necessity. Women may require longer outpatient services and can greatly benefit from residential sober-living accommodations.
What Gender-Specific Treatment Can Do
The treatment offered by gender-specific treatment centers has the same evidence-based approaches offered in other types of rehab. The main difference is that gender-specific centers can tailor their services to the specific needs of men and women. Many people have found that this approach enhances their recovery process.
We know that alcohol and drugs affect men and women in different ways, so it stands to reason that treatment will affect both groups differently as well. The main benefit of gender-specific treatment is that patients may feel more comfortable opening up to group therapy settings with people of their own gender. This is mainly due to shared experiences, particularly with birth and childcare. The feelings of safety and camaraderie can increase the likelihood of achieving sobriety.
Gender-Specific Treatment Has a High Success Rate
It’s not necessarily true that people who undergo gender-specific treatment have a better chance of achieving sobriety than those who don’t. However, many studies have shown that gender-specific treatment does have a high success rate. That said, this does not mean that people who undergo this type of treatment are less likely to relapse. The circumstances for each individual are too complex to predict who is more at risk for relapse than another.
One thing we can say with confidence is that there is no harm in choosing gender-specific treatment over other types of treatment. The quality and type of care is virtually the same. It largely depends on the needs of each patient. For those who haven’t had success with traditional rehab in the past, or who feel they will be more willing to open up to members of their own gender, it may be worth giving gender-specific treatment a try.
Realizing you need treatment for substance abuse can be nerve-wracking. The prospect of group therapy can also be intimidating. One thing that can help alleviate some of these concerns is gender-specific treatment programs. These are offered at Spero Recovery, located in beautiful Colorado. It has been our experience that many people feel more comfortable and generally safer opening up about their problems when in groups of their own gender. This is because men and women tend to have different life experiences, some of which may feed into the root causes of addiction. Our residential programs are gender-specific, where men and women from all walks of life can live, grow, and achieve sobriety in a safe community together. To learn more about these programs, call us at (303) 351-7888 to speak with a staff member. You can also contact us through our website messaging system.