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Benefits of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment in Sober Living

Gender-specific addiction treatment refers to drug and alcohol detox, rehabilitation, and sober living programs that are specifically designed to treat men and women separately from one another. Gender differences between men and women in terms of substance abuse exist in things such as dependence rates, drugs of choice, and even how the brain responds to an abused substance. Studies also show that women and men have different reasons for turning to substance use in the first place and have their own unique sets of circumstances that can result in relapse. This is why it is important to choose a gender-specific treatment program that takes each of these issues into consideration in an environment that is supportive and understanding when it comes to unique individual treatment needs [1].

How Addiction Affects Men and Women Differently

Men and women experience addiction differently due to a variety of reasons, particularly where substances of choice and prevelance rates are concerned. For example, men are more likely than women to report marijuana and alcohol use, whereas women are more likely than men to report abusing prescription drugs.

Men’s and women’s addiction also differs in how and why they began abusing substances in the first place. Men tend to begin abusing substances in the hope that it will have positive benefits for them, i.e. acheive better concentration, lead to an easier time in social situations, or even help improve sex drive or performance. For women, substance abuse is more generally associated with either traumatic experiences or abusive relationships, and women often turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate and escape painful emotions caused by this victimization or abuse.

An additional difference between the two genders is that women usually begin abusing substances at a lower dosage than do men; however, their substance abuse is likely to escalate more quickly into full-blown addiction. On average, women also tend to enter treatment sooner after becoming addicted to a substance as compared to men, but they also tend to have more co-occurring psychological issues, particularly in the area of mood and anxiety disorders. Men and women may also have very different attitudes toward pursuing treatment for drug or alcohol abuse [2].

Related post: 10 Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment

Substance Use Disorder and the Underlying Issues Faced by Women

For women, the path to substance abuse and addiction is more typically associated with traumatic experiences or abusive relationships. The majority of women who use drugs or alcohol may also have a history of family substance abuse and may have initially begun using because their spouse or partner is or was suffering from addiction. Women often turn to alcohol or drugs as a means to self-medicate and escape painful emotions. These may be caused by past incidences of victimization or sexual or domestic abuse. These issues, particularly when a patient has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), require a specialized treatment plan that benefits from removing the distraction of having the opposite sex in therapy groups and other activities.

Women who are entering treatment due to an addiction that developed in response to a traumatic event may particularly benefit from gender-specific programs. Female patients who have experienced verbal, physical, or sexual assault by a man (usually involving demeaning a woman’s sense of self-worth and value) may not feel comfortable or safe discussing these topics in group therapy sessions with men present.

Since women are typically the more nurturing of the two sexes, they may be more focused on taking care of others rather than focusing on themselves, especially where addiction is concerned. In this sense, some women are motivated toward achieving and maintaining sobriety when they realize they are pregnant or have small children they need to attend to. Mothers who are suffering from addiction can also benefit from gender-specific treatment. It can be very difficult to be away from children during the treatment process, but with the support of other sympathetic women in the program along with medical professionals, these women may be able to open up to others and discuss what it is like to have lived with an addiction while trying to care for their children [2,3].

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Focused on Men’s Issues

Along with women, men also may tend to gravitate toward addiction due to past or ongoing trauma, although in the case of men there may be the idea held that these issues must be dealt with silently and stoicly, or “swept under the rug.” Many men may also self-medicate to cope with the unrealistic societal expectations, pressures, and demands that are placed upon them.

Social expectations can be a driving influence in preventing men in seeking the help they need for addiction. Men may feel psychologically pressured to present themselves as being strong, capable, and always someone to depend on, and in this sense may feel as though they will be judged as “weak” or “soft” if they attempt to seek help for their substance abuse. While this cultural stereotype can unfortunately not be eliminated from the mainstream consciousness, men can benefit from a gender-specific addiction treatment program where they are surrounded by other males who understand these issues and can discuss their own problems free from any outside judgment.

Men also may be entering treatment with a past history of trauma which they may be reluctant to openly discuss in front of the opposite sex. Male sexual abuse or childhood trauma are serious issues that are often overlooked in traditional treatment settings. Sexual abuse is an extremely sensitive issue for men that can be handled more openly and honestly in a single-gender setting, where professional medical staff can help work through these issues in a supportive and understanding environment [4,5].

Related post: Top 7 Men’s Issues in Addiction Recovery

Eudaimonia Can Help Keep You on the Path to Recovery

At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we know the struggle of trying to achieve and maintain sobriety. However, long-term sobriety is possible for every person in recovery despite the unique challenges they may be facing. With sober living homes located in Houston and Austin, Texas, and Colorado Springs, CO, Eudaimonia can provide essential recovery support services to help you or a loved one achieve lifelong sobriety. Call us today at (512) 580-3131 or contact us online for more information.

References:

  1. Addiction And The Brain: How Drugs Impact The Brain
  2. Gender-Specific Treatment Programs – Addiction Center
  3. Addressing Trauma Among Women With Serious Addictive Disorders: Treatment Models, Program Factors, And Potential Mediators – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. Gender Specific Treatment – American Addiction Foundation
  5. Why Trauma Can Lead to Addiction

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