The Benefits of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment
Women and men who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) face many challenges as they begin to rebuild their lives and learn to live without using. Addiction recovery can seem like an uphill battle, but gender-split rehab and therapy have been shown to make the process more personalized, comforting, and effective.
These treatments offer gender-focused education, strong group connections, and a safe place for people to share their struggles with others like them without fear of judgement or social pressure. Those who find it more comfortable to express themselves honestly in their treatment are more likely to be successful in their long-term recovery and avoid relapse.
Newly sober people often discover the feelings of loneliness that they had been masking with substance abuse, or are now feeling due to cutting out the group of people they formerly used with. Loneliness is an emotion that can put a person dealing with SUD at risk for relapse. That’s why having groups of people to connect with on a deeper level during treatment is key to long-term recovery. Gender-specific treatment groups can foster familiarity and closeness, making the formation of these critical bonds easier because of shared experience, similar backgrounds, and camaraderie.
A Safe Space
Women who may have certain traumas, like sexual or physical violence, find comfort in being surrounded exclusively by other women who are also in a vulnerable time of their lives. Sobriety can bring up disturbing memories or reveal trouble with current relationships, so many women find it empowering to be with others who can closely relate to them and build them up.
Feeling vulnerable can be a scary thing for men who can feel burdened by a culture of machismo, or male pride and strength. This idea of how men “should” act can cause an unhealthy suppression of sadness, weakness, and depression that are often present with addiction. Being in a group of all men provides an environment where they can open up and make connections with other men to improve their recovery.
Discussing Guilt and Shame
When people with SUD begin treatment, feelings of guilt and shame tend to surface as they remember and come to terms with some of their behavior while using. This may be related to how they treated loved ones, situations they found themselves in, not living up to expectations, and more. These emotions can be self-destructive and can lead to the desire to use, which is why talking about them freely with others is important to heal. Gender-focused SUD therapies allow men and women to share their feelings and experiences with those they feel close to.
Addressing the Stigma
Gender-specific addiction treatment allows both men and women to openly talk about the societal pressures they face struggling with substance use disorder.
In women-specific SUD treatments, women feel more open to addressing the stigma of their addiction and how it may have impacted their families and perceptions of themselves. Women in society struggling with SUD are often looked at through a more critical lens, especially if they are mothers or caregivers. This intensifies their low self-esteem based on others’ perceptions. Gender-focused treatment groups allow women to reflect on emotionally charged experiences with each other, leading to more effective healing.
This idea of societal pressure also impacts men going through substance use treatment. Men often feel the duty to provide for their families and be strong for those that rely on them, but addiction hinders their ability to keep a job or maintain their responsibilities, which can fuel low self-esteem. Men-only treatment programs give participants a platform to air their feelings that arise from not being able to meet these standards, which can fuel their desire to use.
Gender-specific addiction treatment offers programs that are geared toward men and women, which provides a more targeted approach to care. Common aspects of gender-focused SUD treatment include education about the effects of substance use on the body and brain, therapy to address traumas and dual diagnoses, and personalized recovery resources. This programming is tailored to the unique needs of women and men regarding the differences in their bodies, brain chemistry, background, and lifestyle.
Through gender-specific SUD treatment, those grappling with addiction have a safe haven to undergo holistic therapy designed to help them heal and build a recovery network. At Extra Mile Recovery, we offer gender-focused care at separate rehabilitation centers for those with substance abuse disorder to provide the skills and support to succeed in recovery long term.