Why Are Gender-Specific Treatment Groups Important?
by 449 Staff

Addiction affects people regardless of age, race, sexual identity, or gender. However, addiction often affects men and women differently. This is due to both societal standards and biological differences. Having an approach to treatment that recognizes these differences, such as gender-specific treatment groups, can help both men and women find healing.

Gender Differences in Substance Abuse

Addiction can affect men and women differently. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs.” As a result, men’s substance abuse is more likely to lead to emergency room visits and overdose death. Men are also more likely to have higher rates of dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than women.

However, women are just as likely as men to develop substance use disorder (SUD). Women also “use drugs differently, respond to drugs differently, and can have unique obstacles to effective treatment” that men do not face. When entering treatment, women are more likely to have more severe medical, behavioral, psychological, and social problems.

What Are Gender-Specific Treatment Groups?

Gender-specific treatment groups are groups in drug and alcohol treatment designed for women and men separately. These types of groups aim to address the differences between men and women when it comes to addiction. Some of these differences include:

  • Rates of dependence
  • Choice of substance
  • Brain response to substances
  • Rate of exposure
  • Ability to break down alcohol
  • Speed of addiction progression
  • Reason for substance abuse

Groups for Men

From a young age, many men are taught that being a man means being tough. Unfortunately, this leads to suppression of emotions, which can lead to substance abuse. As a result of these teachings, many men see seeking treatment as a form of weakness and are ashamed to open up and express their feelings.

The goal of gender-specific treatment groups is to confront these societal stereotypes. In a gender-specific group, men are given the space to heal safely among other men who feel the same way. Men are often taught not to feel emotions and that they should bottle everything up until they explode.

However, in gender-specific treatment groups, men are able to dig deep into their emotions and understand it is a safe space to talk about and acknowledge how they feel. These gender-specific groups can break down the stereotypes forced upon men by society, resulting in ultimate healing.

Groups for Women

Women often turn to substances to relieve stress or negative emotions. Much of this stress also stems from societal pressures, such as being a mother or taking care of a household. For example, “wine mom” culture is highly prevalent in society today; women feel the need to drink in order to cope with the challenges of parenthood.

Women are also more likely to experience intimate partner violence. One in three women have experienced physical violence at the hands of their partner, and victims of violence are more likely to develop an addiction. Differences in life experiences and trauma sometimes require a specialized approach taken with gender-specific treatment groups.

For women, gender-specific groups are also about feeling safe. While men need a safe space to recognize it is okay to be open and honest, women often need a space to talk about what they have been through at the hands of the opposite gender, such as physical or sexual abuse. For both women and men, having the support of people who have experienced the same things they have because they are of the same gender can be a crucial piece of treatment.

Co-ed Treatment Is Just as Important

While gender-specific treatment groups can be an integral part of the healing process for many people, co-ed treatment is just as important. Part of a person’s goal in treatment is to learn to live life in the real world without the use of drugs or alcohol. The world we live in is co-ed, and learning to interact with the opposite sex can help individuals in their recovery. Learning this interaction in treatment can be crucial, as a treatment facility provides a safe and structured space for interaction.

Attending groups with the opposite gender also helps people hear different perspectives on life and recovery. Hearing various perspectives in a co-ed group can help individuals view the issues in their life and recovery in a new way. Co-ed treatment provides real-world views from both genders.

Every day, both men and women interact and, despite differences, also deal with similar problems. Co-ed treatment centers allow both genders to bring their own experiences and opinions to the table. It can be helpful to see that, while there may be differences, both men and women experience some of the same struggles and feelings.

Addiction can affect anyone regardless of age, race, sexual identity, or gender. However, addiction can affect men and women differently. Recognizing and addressing these differences in gender-specific treatment groups can help men and women find the healing they deserve. While gender-specific treatment groups are an integral part of healing, co-ed treatment is also just as important. 449 Recovery is a co-ed treatment facility ready to help you heal from the mental health struggles that have led you to addiction. We provide both gender-specific and co-ed groups to ensure you get the most out of your treatment experience. At 449 Recovery, we focus on helping you heal in a safe, family-oriented environment as we provide care for the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. For more information on the benefits of gender-specific treatment groups or to learn more about our program, call 449 Recovery today at (949) 435-7449.



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