Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines, Executive Director at New Hope Ranch
Gender-specific treatment programs refer to programs designed to treat men and women separately. These programs recognize that fundamental social, cultural and biological differences between men and women influence the development of substance use disorders and perpetuate substance use.
Gender-specific programs hold many benefits for short-term treatment outcomes and long-term recovery success. It is important to recognize that these programs are available and understand the unique benefits these programs can bring to an individual’s treatment and recovery experience.
What are the Benefits of Gender-Specific Treatment Programs?
The following is information regarding a few of these positive attributes that may wind up making all the difference in your recovery.
#1. Increased Relatability Regarding Substance Use
There is no question that men and women go through life differently. Similarly, men and women experience addiction differently.
Gender-specific treatment programs allow for increased relatability among patients precisely because men and women experience different patterns of substance use. First, men tend to experience more frequent and severe alcoholism than women. Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women and are more likely to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. On the other hand, women are more likely to seek treatment for the misuse of barbiturates, known to treat anxiety and insomnia. Women are also more likely to experience more frequent anxiety disorders and panic attacks than men.
Men and women also experience different substance use effects. Women tend to use drugs in smaller amounts than men as they experience effects more strongly. This outcome may be due to reasons such as differences in biological makeup. Women’s substance use also tends to progress more quickly into addiction compared to men.
#2. Increased Relatability Regarding Life Experiences
While both men and women experience specific issues that pertain to their substance-using behaviors, they also go about life very differently. Gender-specific programs help to promote greater understanding between patients, especially in group settings. For example, women often face unique emotional battles with hormones, trauma and even pregnancy that may or may not pertain to their substance use. Similarly, men typically struggle more with becoming vulnerable or coping with anger management skills. Men and women respond differently to different life circumstances, which can make treatment issues unique for each gender.
Many gender-specific treatment programs also recognize the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals face, which often makes their recovery journey feel even more lonely. These programs offer a safe space for LGBTQ+ men and women to feel heard, supported and validated during their treatment and recovery journey. There is no question that these programs also encourage other individuals to embark on their own recovery journey, specifically knowing that they will be surrounded by others that are likely going through the same challenges that they are.
It is also important to point out that unique life experiences contribute to gender differences in seeking out treatment. Men are less likely to seek out or enter treatment as quickly as women, however, women are more likely than men to encounter barriers that prevent them from following through with treatment. This is essential to recognize when it comes to initially creating a treatment plan as well as being able to follow through to achieve recovery.
#3. Treatment is Specialized
Gender-specific treatment programs acknowledge that different gender factors play a role in the development of substance use and tailor treatment towards the unique needs and goals of each gender. Men tend to experience substance use problems and addiction more severely than women, which would require greater levels of care for male patients. However, this outcome is not universal for all patients, as men may benefit from more extended or residential treatment programs than women. Similarly, therapy sessions, after-treatment hobbies and other treatment approaches can be better tailored toward a gender-specific group.
#4. Treatment May Be More Effective
The last significant benefit of gender-specific treatment programs is that they can make treatment more effective overall. Patients tend to be more comfortable and engaged among a group of the same gender. They are more likely to make deeper connections with their fellow peers in group therapy or at a treatment facility which can motivate their treatment and recovery.
Even within the surplus of gender-specific treatment facilities, every facility will offer various unique elements that make their programs stand out among the crowd. Most facilities are able to provide a specialized standard of care that helps make both treatment and recovery more successful in the long term. Even when treatment facilities are co-ed, they may offer gender-sensitive therapy groups that can provide a safe and comfortable space for patients to discuss topics relating to their substance use and gender. It is essential to recognize these benefits to decide if a gender-specific program would be a good fit for you or your loved one.
New Hope Ranch is a male-only addiction treatment center that recognizes the value of gender-specific treatment programs. We understand that men experience unique biological, cultural and social challenges that contribute to repeated substance use. We offer a residential treatment program that includes both clinical and holistic therapies to help enhance your treatment and recovery journey. To learn about our treatment options or get connected with our treatment facility, give us a call today at (737) 600-8565.