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Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Programs: Are They More Effective?

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The distinct biological differences between men and women affect how they respond to drug and alcohol use.  According to NSDUH, men and women use substances for different reasons, which calls for different treatment approaches.  A gender-specific addiction treatment program tailored to each gender’s needs is recommended.

Why Is Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Needed?

Gender-Specific Addiction TreatmentSeveral national surveys have shown that gender plays a significant role in substance use and substance choice.  For instance, women are more likely to engage in non-medical use of prescription drugs.  By contrast, men are more likely to misuse marijuana and alcohol.  

Another important difference is that men and women have different reasons for their substance use.  In most cases, men perceived the benefits of substance use as increased sociability, improved sexual performance, and better concentration.  

Women are more likely to turn to substance use as a result of trauma or abusive relationships.  Although women use substances at lower doses than men, they become addicted more quickly than men.  

With these significant differences in mind, a gender-sensitive treatment program is designed to address the specific needs of men and women separately.

Benefits of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Programs

Although group therapy is a key component of all addiction treatment programs, many people struggle to cope in such a setting.  Their reluctance to participate is partially due to the discomfort of discussing gender-specific issues in a mixed group.  There are several reasons why these individuals will appreciate the benefits of gender-specific treatment:

>  Provides Specialized Treatment

Gender-specific addiction treatment offers a tailored approach to therapy.  This approach allows therapists and patients to explore the underlying gender-specific issues that may be causing their substance abuse.

>  A Less Distracting Environment

Most people are distracted by the opposite gender for several reasons.  They may feel an attraction to the other or are often afraid to openly discuss their problems in the presence of the opposite sex.  These distractions can lead to emotional, mental, or physical sexual tension.  Gender-specific treatment programs will eliminate these problems.

>  Gender-Specific Peer Support

An essential part of addiction treatment is interacting with peers experiencing the same problems. A person in recovery needs to be able to relate to someone who knows what they are going through.  For instance, women face challenges that men can’t relate to and vice versa. 

>  Greater Emphasis on Gender-Specific Issues

In a gender-specific group of like-minded individuals, more time can be spent focusing on issues that are specific to their particular gender.  Women can spend time discussing the challenges of motherhood and women-specific trauma.  Likewise, men feel encouraged to open up because they are surrounded by other men who are facing the same problems.  

Addiction Treatment for Women

An addiction treatment program for women gives women an opportunity to freely express their feelings exclusively among other women.  They won’t feel judged and can benefit from positive support and guidance during the sessions. 

Some of the topics covered in female-specific treatment programs include:

  • Emotions
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Self-love
  • Self-care
  • Roles
  • Boundaries
  • Coping strategies
  • Triggers, stressors

For most women, substance use is accompanied by some type of mental illness such as anxiety,  bipolar disorder, or depression.  An effective gender-specific program for women will focus on addressing and treating these co-occurring disorders. 

Addiction Treatment for Men

Society is tough on men.  They are expected to hide their feelings or emotions and “man up” when faced with a problem.  As a result, men are hesitant to open up in mixed group therapy sessions. However, in a treatment program designed specifically for men, they tend to open up more.  

As with women, men often suffer from co-occurring mental disorders and substance abuse.  Men also struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders that lead them to use substances.  Co-occurring issues are specifically addressed in men’s addiction treatment programs to ensure a longer-term recovery.

The topics covered during men’s addiction treatment programs are generally the same as those listed above for women.  Each topic is based on the psychological, physiological, and emotional needs of men.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment at Design for Change Recovery

Are you avoiding treatment because you don’t like the idea of interacting in mixed group therapy sessions?  If so, contact Design for Change Recovery.  We offer evidence-based, gender-specific treatment programs for men and women.  

The group sessions will take place in a small, intimate setting where participants can relax and get to know each other.  Our highly qualified counselors, therapists, and other skilled staff are dedicated to making sure you get the best level of treatment for your unique situation.  

Do you dream of a drug-free, productive lifestyle?  We are here to help you achieve that goal.

Learn more about our gender-specific addiction treatment programs by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility today.  One of our knowledgeable professionals will go over our program options with you and recommend a treatment plan that is right for your needs.


Are Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Programs More Effective?