Renaissance Ranch

3 Advantages of Gender-Based Addiction Treatment

Jul 15, 2015

At Renaissance Ranch, our outpatient addiction recovery program is gender-specific. This means that women and men are separated as they go through treatment, rather than many environments where they’re in the same programs.

Recovering from addiction can be an extremely difficult process, and gender-based treatment can be just the answer to helping an individual overcome barriers to receive the treatment that he or she needs. Here are three major advantages that gender-based addiction recovery treatment offers.

Addresses gender-specific issues

Men and women typically become involved with and respond to addiction differently. An all-male or all-female environment allows for individuals to address psychological issues that are more inherent to a particular gender while in treatment. For example, men more often cite emotional isolation, anger or aggression, sexual problems, and narcissism as problems that need to be addressed during treatment. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to discuss sexual or physical abuse, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and parenting issues during their treatment. In addition, a gender-based treatment program is better equipped to help men and women overcome gender-specific barriers to receiving treatment in the first place—barriers such as pride and denial for men or social stigma and competing responsibilities for women. This type of program can also work to prepare men and women for relapse triggers that are more common to a particular gender.

Men and women differ in the way they develop addiction habits, and in how they respond to addiction. There are several areas that might vary here:

  • Development: Addiction changes brain function in both genders, but manifests itself differently in many cases. Instances of violence, depression, sexual risks and other common addictive behaviors will vary drastically.
  • Treatment access: Nearly everyone who struggles with addiction finds some barrier to treatment, but men and women cite different barriers. Women are more likely to worry about childcare and social stigma when seeking treatment, while men are more worried about financial concerns and being perceived as “weak.”
  • Response: Women often need to address issues like sexual abuse, eating disorders and unhealthy relationships. Men often need to address different issues, such as anger management, emotional distance and father/son relationships.

These are generic examples, but they’re themes that hold true in the majority of cases. Gender-specific treatment allows for more individualized attention within these themes.

Less self-consciousness or embarrassment

One barrier for some in mixed-gender settings is feeling self-conscious or embarrassed around members of the other gender when discussing deep-seated psychological issues. Men and women are generally more likely to share more personal and more intimate information with those of the same gender. Gender-based treatment, then, can make for stronger communication and support opportunities.

Eliminates romantic distraction

Many addiction recovery specialists will warn against the potential dangers of getting involved in romantic relationships while undergoing treatment and during the first year or so following addiction recovery treatment. Romantic relationships have a tendency to bring into your life added stresses and heightened emotions, and these in addition to the stresses that already existing when attempting to overcome addiction could be too much for any person to handle. Addiction recovery is very much a time of self-reflection, so it is important not to let romantic relationships become a distraction from staying sober. Gender-based addiction recovery treatment helps to eliminate the risks that come with getting involved in a romantic relationship.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction? Contact Renaissance Ranch today to get started on a recovery journey that will heal the mind, body, and spirit.

Lee Williams, LCSW, SUDC is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Substance Use Disorder Counselor. He graduated from the University of Utah with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with Certification in Criminology and Corrections. He is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. His professional experience in the field of addiction has been centered on mental health and forensic social work. Lee has actively worked in a 12-step approach to the treatment of substance use disorder for over a decade. In addition to his love for working in the field of addiction, Lee’s greatest joys are in his experiences as a husband and father.

3 Advantages of Gender-Based Addiction Treatment.jpg