Gender-specific treatment refers to drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs in which the treatment curriculum is tailored specifically to men or women. This system has a variety of benefits since men and women experience different types of addiction with distinct trajectories.
Similarly, we know that men and women turn to drugs for different reasons. Men often use drugs to improve their concentration, allow them to be more social, and/or improve their sexual performance. By comparison, women tend to use it as a form of self-medication after traumatic experiences or abusive relationships, helping them to alleviate their emotional distress.
Moreover, women often begin using at lower doses and then scale their dosage quickly while men tend to escalate their substance abuse more gradually over time. We’ve also seen that men are likely to delay entering treatment. For women, the likelihood of co-occurring, or comorbid, psychological disorders can create a feedback loop where one affliction escalates as the other worsens.
For these reasons, gender-based treatment programs have been quite common since these programs can account for critical points in treatment that may slip through the cracks in co-educational programs. Further, providers may unknowingly write a treatment program that favors men over women (or vice versa), effectively increasing the rate of relapse for the gender that’s not being catered to.
Benefits of Gender-Specific Treatment Programs
As we’ve discussed already, there are some notable differences between men and women concerning how each gender tends to experience substance abuse. While people can—and do—experience immense success in co-educational programs, there are benefits to treating men and women individually.
Tailored to Needs & Preferences
Men and women tend to start abusing drugs and alcohol for different reasons. Although treatment programs are generally created to be as holistic and flexible as possible, it’s simply not possible for every program to cover every single base. Additionally, since the providers are dividing their attention between multiple clients, those enrolled in these programs sometimes don’t get the tailored treatment that they need.
When treatment centers have a separate curriculum for male and female clients, each program can hone in on each gender’s specific needs so that every patient gets the right care.
It’s quite common for people to be quite uncomfortable when it comes to discussing personal issues in a mixed-gender group. This can be a problem since patients must be willing to be vulnerable in order to achieve the full benefits of a drug rehab program.
For example, there are some people who began using alcohol or drugs as an attempt to cope with due to sexual violence or other abuse from a partner of the opposite sex. Because of the trauma they’ve experienced, these individuals may struggle to open up while they’re in the presence of the opposite sex.
Being in a same-gender peer group doesn’t only remove obstacles that might hold a patient back; it has positive benefits that advance treatment. In particular, the presence of a peer group encourages communal bonding. Patients interact with a group in which they feel innately understood and can communicate more easily.
Emotional vulnerability is key to forming relationships. In a group setting, this vulnerability can lead to strong bonds, including those romantic in nature.
Entering into a new romantic relationship can create a source of stress that people in the early stages of recovery should not have to deal with, especially while they are actively in rehab. Since stress is a common cause of relapse, this can create a situation where the individual is eager to relapse before even completing treatment.
When you have gender-specific programs, 95 percent of people will be able to focus on treatment and recovery without forming romantic attachments. Moreover, individuals in gender-specific rehabs and treatment programs stand to form more meaningful relationships with same-gendered peers.
The Benefits of Female-Specific Treatments
At women-only rehabs, women benefit from having a safe and supportive environment in which to communicate about uniquely female experiences and feelings, such as motherhood and family life, in the context of recovery.
Mothers suffering from addiction have the unique responsibility of being emotional anchors in their families. Because these mothers are surrounded by other women who are better positioned to understand these kinds of struggles, the clients feel more accepted throughout what would otherwise have been a more difficult and lonely recovery process.
Treatment programs for women are designed to accommodate the experiences and, perhaps more importantly, the traumas that women often suffer. For survivors of sexual assault or abuse, there can be immense safety and reassurance in a treatment program; if their past trauma triggered their abuse, women may not feel comfortable discussing and disclosing such events in the presence of men.
The opposite is also true for men who may have been abused by women.
The Benefits of Male-Specific Treatments
Men who have suffered abuse from female partners benefit from an all-male environment where they feel safer. In this setting, men can lower their guard and be more willing to share experiences that made them feel vulnerable.
Generally, men need more time to open up. In a co-ed group, this can often mean that men receive less attention than women who tend to be open from the start. Male sexual abuse or other struggles that are difficult for men to discuss might be overlooked. But in single-gender treatment, the actual treatments are designed to accommodate the needs, preferences, and tendencies that men have.
Men can combat their need to protect their image and standing and avoid the need to appear invulnerable as they push through their own pain and insecurities. They can also focus on building camaraderie with their fellow men whereas the context is completely different when women are in the group.
Data shows that most rehab patients are men; thus, a program for both men and women might struggle to evenly allocate resources. In fact, programs for women may not get the same resources as the men’s branch due to having a much lower patient volume, or if they are given equal resources, might be forced to let them go to waste.
Although women’s shelters and womens’-only facilities can alleviate resource imbalance, men aren’t as lucky.
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Our Los Angeles sober living program doesn’t discriminate. We are committed to ensuring that every person suffering from addiction has access to the resources that he or she needs. While most sober living facilities in Los Angeles may not cater to the needs of everyone, Silicon Beach Sober Living has luxurious sober living homes to meet almost any individual’s recovery needs.
If you or a loved one needs more information about our addiction treatments, follow us on social media or contact us today to learn just how much we can help.