Alcohol and drug addiction have always been a problem in the US, but it has only come out of the shadows over the past twenty-odd years. As more people acknowledge addiction as a disease and not a failure of willpower, more treatment programs and facilities have opened across the country.
With more programs, we’ve seen more specialization to give the best results. One of the easiest ways to divide people for appropriate treatment is by gender. There’s more to using gender to treat addiction than meets the eye so let’s learn more about the distinct biological and social advantages of gender-specific rehab.
A Note About Gender and Sex
Not everyone identifies 100% as a female or 100% as a male and that’s okay for gender-specific rehab. As we get into the benefits you will learn more of why gender-specific rehab is important as a biological function more so than a social function through social factors play a role too.
Gender may be fluid, but biological sex is not and plays an important factor in your rehab experience. Though we will undoubtedly talk about social differences between the sexes, the benefits of each the biological difference are the larger focal point.
Different Wiring for Different Genders
Years of evolution have wired the male and female brains differently. They respond differently to stimuli, tasks, and thousands of other subtle differences. Because the male and female brain are biologically different, you can’t expect a one-size-fits-all treatment.
Gender-specific rehab largely uses the same types of treatment methods for both genders but may utilize gender-specific counseling, therapy, and other methods. The acknowledgment of different methods for different genders gives both men and women a better chance at their goals.
Other Physiological Differences Between the Genders
Male and female brains are undoubtedly wired differently but differences extend to the physical body. Women’s and men’s bodies react differently to drugs and alcohol – even if the same amount is used. A 150-pound man will experience drug use differently than a 150-pound woman due to the natural chemistry of the human body. For example, women tend to absorb drugs and alcohol more quickly and hold on to it longer. In gender-specific rehab, you will be treated by medical professionals who know the differences regarding addiction and gender and will treat your addiction appropriately.
Differences in Drug and Alcohol Mentality
Men and women also drink or use drugs for different reasons or can get hooked for different reasons. According to addiction specialist, Christopher D. Brinkerhoff of Westminster College men tend to start using drugs or alcohol for a perceived benefit. They may use meth to extend their work hours or use alcohol to become more socially lubricated. Brinkerhoff found that women tend to use drugs for the first time as a form of escape whether it be from PTSD or a mundane life.
These rules don’t apply to every person of a specific gender but are an example of gender-related research that can help formulate a better plan on dealing with the psychology and other underlying issues of addiction.
Women are more likely to have a dual-diagnosis than men with substance abuse issues. Whether women have more psychological diagnosis due to gender or due to men underreporting isn’t known but all diagnosed mental health issues must be taken care of for the most direct results.
Women-specific rehab will primarily focus on substance abuse issues but will put more of an emphasis on treating other issues like PTSD and trauma as well as mood disorders like bipolarism or major depression. Considering a female addict or alcoholic is 70% more likely to experience sexual abuse than their male counterparts, emphasis on trauma and issues indirectly related to addiction is crucial for women’s rehab.
You want as little distractions as possible while in rehab. It may seem elementary to separate the boys and girls for an adult experience, but the fact is that trying to get sober can be more difficult if you’re more focused on the girls in the room next to yours than you are at getting sober. This is also the reason that most coed rehab facilities have strict anti-fraternization policies. Getting sober is one of the most crucial points in your life and the less you have to distract you, even if you don’t believe it will be an issue, the better your results will be.
Men and women can absolutely be platonic friends and can understand each other, but most are more comfortable in bonding to their sex. Guys like hanging out with guys, girls like hanging out with girls. This can seem superfluous for rehab until you understand the importance of fellowship in recovery. They say you can’t beat addiction alone and that ties into fellowship.
Having a group to share your struggles with, a group you can talk to, and group that shares in your defeats and successes is critically important to recovery. This fellowship is traditionally easier to form in same-sex groups and relationships.
Be honest with yourself, would you be more willing to share your struggles and accomplishments with the same sex or the opposite sex of yourself? Most people would say with the same sex. If you aren’t comfortable sharing with your rehab group or don’t want members of the opposite sex knowing your secrets, you won’t be able to move forward in your recovery. Gender-specific rehab allows the comfort levels necessary to grow.
There are many more benefits and advantages of gender-specific rehab compared to coed rehab but these are among the most obvious and important. If you think you or a loved one needs help with their addiction or disorder turn to gender-specific rehab for treatment. All it takes is picking up the phone.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.