When programs that are designed to treat substance use disorder are created specifically for the unique needs of men and women, it is called gender-specific treatment. In addition to the biological differences that exist between women and men, many experts note that the genders also differ biologically as well. If you need gender-specific treatment options, reach out to the addiction treatment program at Bayview Recovery today at 855.478.3650.
Gender Differences And Substance Use
These cultural and biological differences mean that men and women often choose different substances. Additionally, their brains respond differently during the use of these substances, and they have different rates of dependence. Not surprisingly, women and men often cite different reasons for using beginning to use substances initially as well as varying situations that lead to relapse.
Gender-specific treatment addresses the needs of each gender in ways that are sensitive to these differences. This enables the treatment program to provide an environment that is both supportive and comfortable.
Gender-Specific Treatment Benefits
There are multiple benefits for both women and men when they choose gender-specific treatment. These benefits include:
- Increased comfort because of the bonding and trust that typically occurs among clients of the same gender
- Open communication regarding the unique cultural and societal pressures that each gender experiences and that can lead to substance use and abuse
- Treatment that uniquely addresses the emotional, physiological, and relational issues that are specific to men and women
- Reduction in distractions, including sexual tension, which can occur between clients of the opposite gender
Important Gender Differences In Substance Abuse Explained
In almost every element, women and men experience substance use and abuse in different ways. While it is important to remember that these are generalizations, and every person is different, understanding and addressing these differences in the form of gender-specific treatment provides a more effective and comprehensive program.
Men’s Substance Abuse
When men abuse substances, they tend to show a range of behaviors, including:
- Tend to use alcohol and marijuana
- Often use substances due to the perceived benefits, such as enhanced sex drive and performance, increased concentration, and a boost in sociability
- Often enter treatment at later stages compared to women
Men’s rehab addresses the complex cultural and societal issues that can affect how males perceive themselves. For example, many men are reluctant to begin substance use disorder treatment because they might be judged or deemed as being weak. Males also tend to take longer to feel comfortable enough to talk about their emotions, struggles, and other issues in their lives.
Sexual abuse by men is an issue that is as serious as it is sensitive. Because of these factors, it is best handled in a treatment setting that is comprised solely of males.
Women’s Substance Abuse
Women struggle who struggle with addiction often struggle with different issues, including:
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to escape the emotions attached to abuse or victimization
- Typically have a family history of substance abuse
- Are more likely to use prescription medications in non-medical ways
- Tend to use substances at lower doses, but this often escalates into addiction faster
- Often enter treatment sooner than men
- Present with co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and mood disorders
Women’s rehab, as part of gender-specific treatment, can provide these clients with the support they need and crave regarding life events in addition to substance abuse. Being able to commiserate with other women over challenges in relationships, motherhood, family life, and workplace dynamics can help provide a holistic approach to treatment.
When a woman has experienced physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse from a man might not feel supported and safe enough to discuss these events if the group includes males. Instead, gender-specific treatment provides women with a sense of empowerment, support, and success.
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Dave Cundiff, MD, MPH is an experienced leader in the field of Substance Use Disorder treatment. He works with patients suffering from Substance Use Disorder to evaluate their medication needs and prescribe treatments accordingly. In addition, he regularly participates in all-staff debriefing sessions involving peers, nurses, and other prescribers. He also reviews and advises on policies, procedures, and techniques for treating substance use disorder.