Renaissance Ranch

The Benefits of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Jan 23, 2024

Addiction is a beast, no matter what. However, men and women are wired differently, thus often requiring different treatment methods.

Research shows differences in treatment outcomes when comparing the results of men and women.

Addiction is a disease that is complex in many ways. Several factors, including genetics, other disorders, trauma, cognitive distortions, biological deficits, and recurring substance abuse, can influence a person’s susceptibility to addiction. Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety can all play a massive role in substance abuse as well. Therefore, it’s essential that those in addiction recovery also seek help for any underlying mental disorders they have.

Millions of men and women of all walks of life struggle with substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses daily. Even so, it’s easy for someone struggling with addiction to feel isolated.

The Benefits of Gender Specific Addiction Treatment


Men vs. Women in Addiction Recovery

Unfortunately, there is no cure for addiction. Recovery is a lifelong process. Modern medicine cannot treat it, surgery cannot fix it, and mild lifestyle changes will not eradicate it. It is a complex, chronic, and relapsing mental health disease. Substance abuse rewires the brain, changing the way it functions.

Each person’s brain wiring, genetic makeup, and biological and social influences are unique, so that addictions may manifest in varying ways.

Although there is no sure way to know if someone is predisposed to develop an addiction, we should consider certain elements, such as family history and gender. Men and women respond to and engage in drug and alcohol usage differently.

  • Men are typically more likely to abuse illicit drugs and alcohol. Over 11% of boys and men over age 12 struggle with substance abuse.
  • Just over 6% of women and girls struggle with substance abuse.
  • Women have a higher chance of fatally overdosing or going to the emergency room for drug and alcohol-related incidents.

Men and women have distinct biological and sociological contrasts that cause their experiences and tendencies to differ. Society’s expectation of gender roles may partially impact the different responses. However, physical differences such as testosterone and estrogen production, body weight and composition can significantly impact a person’s reaction to certain substances. Harvard Medical School defined the differences between men’s and women’s addiction as “susceptibility, recovery, and risk of relapse.” Here are some stats around that:



  • More likely to develop a substance abuse disorder
  • More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure


  • More likely to go from substance abuse to alcohol or drug dependency and addiction, and at a faster rate
  • More likely to self-medicate with illicit drugs and alcohol



  • They are more likely to regulate their substance abuse at a lower dose than women
  • More likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms from alcohol


  • More likely to develop substance abuse health risks such as liver damage

Risk of Relapse


  • Less likely to relapse (longer stretches of sobriety)


  • More likely to face cravings and have a relapse

Girls aged 12-17 are more likely to abuse prescription opioids and stimulants than boys in the same age bracket.

Five Reasons Why Gender-Specific Treatment May Be Beneficial:

1. Adds a Level of Comfortability

Generally, we feel more comfortable discussing our problems with others of the same sex. For example, a woman escaping an abusive relationship may not feel comfortable talking about it in front of other men. In a co-ed group therapy setting, she may avoid talking about her problems, negatively impacting her growth and recovery. Gender-specific recovery options may add a layer of comfort for both parties.

2. Allows for Better Focus

There are fewer distractions in gender-specific rehab centers. It removes the majority’s potential for physical attraction and distraction from recovery. Rehab is not the time to spark up a romance.

3. Group Therapy Sessions Are More Relatable

Men and women are innately different. Therefore, their experiences, feelings, and tendencies are different. In gender-specific treatment centers, therapists and group leaders can devote more time to topics most relevant to the present gender instead of dividing time between men and women.

4. Targeted Relapse Prevention

A considerable part of substance abuse rehab is creating relapse prevention plans, and usually, the methods differ between genders. Gender-specific treatment means more specific and compelling strategies that can address the most common triggers for their gender.

5. More Effective Treatment

All-in-all, gender-specific addiction recovery centers have many benefits for tailored addiction recovery. For some, gender-specific treatment is essential for their success. Others don’t have much preference either way. Gender-specific treatment can eliminate self-consciousness and eliminate distractions that would otherwise hinder someone’s progress.

At Renaissance Ranch, we offer gender-tailored substance abuse treatment that is unique, clinically driven, and intertwined with faith-based recovery methods. We never want individuals to avoid treatment because they feel uncomfortable or out of place. Our separate rehabs for men and women help to mitigate the self-consciousness and uncertainty of co-ed therapy.