Addiction is not a gender-specific issue; both men and women struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
That said, more treatment centers are beginning to offer gender-specific therapy. What is gender-specific therapy? Simply put, it keeps the genders segregated into different environments and separate programs. This type of therapy creates a setting that is much more conducive to healing for some people and allows for less distraction during treatment.
When a person enters treatment for a substance abuse issue, they will be going through some massive changes. Cessation of the drug(s) alone can be incredibly uncomfortable. It is both natural and common for individuals to seek distraction with the opposite sex during treatment. This can derail not just one person’s treatment, but two. With gender-specific therapy, this major potential distraction is reduced significantly.
Another reason for gender-specific treatment is that all people experience life and addiction in different ways.
Certainly, people who are addicted share similar needs and experiences. But everyone is unique. For the same reason that many treatment centers are now offering individualized treatment programs, many are offering gender-specific programs as well. Men and women are both at risk of becoming dependent or addicted to drugs and alcohol, but there are some significant differences. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) says, “This trend is alarming as women progress faster than men into addiction, even when using a similar or lesser amount of substances, and ultimately suffer more health-related consequences. And, while addiction is an equal opportunity disease, women become addicted differently, start using for different reasons, progress faster, recover differently, and relapse for different reasons than men.”
Gender-specific therapy can be especially important for women, who are more likely to share their thoughts and emotions in a safe environment of their peers.
Many gender-specific issues around addiction are best discussed and treated in a gender-specific therapy environment. The benefits of gender-separate therapy are many. According to research funded by NIDA, women who receive treatment in gender-sensitive programs are more likely to be employed 12 months after treatment than women in more traditional treatment programs.
If you or someone you love are battling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available, and gender-specific therapy may be beneficial. Please consider reaching out and speaking with someone for more information about getting started on the road to recovery.
NIDA (n.d.). Women who receive gender-specific substance abuse treatment have greater chance of employment. Retrieved January 27, 2017.