It seems politically incorrect to segregate rehab by gender. Our society focuses on bringing equality to all, which is just and commendable. Everyone should feel valued and safe, and receive equal opportunities and compensation. Few people would argue that.
However, the sexes have physiological, neurological, and cultural differences. Being equal in value and opportunities does not mean everyone is wired the same. While there are outliers, studies have shown that:
- Men are more likely to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs, while women are more likely to abuse prescription drugs.
- Men are more likely to use drugs due to social pressure and an urge to have fun, while women are more likely to use them to self-medicate physical or emotional pain.
- Women get addicted at lower levels and more quickly than men and are more likely to relapse due to anxiety or stress.
- Men have stronger withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox than women.
- Women have more long-term health problems due to substance abuse, while men overdose more often.
- Women are more likely to seek treatment for the emotional side effects of drug abuse, while men do so after legal or financial problems.
- Men avoid treatment because cultural stigmas imply they are weak, not masculine, and out of control. Women avoid therapy because of stigmas that label them poor mothers and immoral or due to a lack of childcare options or partner support.
- Women are more likely to discuss trauma, such as sexual assault, in therapy. Men face social stigmas about their masculinity and assumptions that they are homosexual if assaulted by another male. They fear no one will believe them, making them unlikely to report abuse, even if they were a child when it happened.
- Women respond better to introspection, while men respond better to solution-based concepts and techniques.
Benefits of Gender-Based Treatment
In light of these statistics, it seems logical that tailoring the treatment at faith-based drug rehabs and other recovery centers according to gender will yield greater success rates than a one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s look at some of the advantages.
Therapists can address and encourage discussion about social pressures men face in seeking recovery and maintaining sobriety when they go home. These include stress from:
- Peers. Drinking is often associated with masculinity. Who can drink the greater volume or the most potent drink is considered the tougher man.
- Co-Workers. Many business deals are done over a drink or a meal where they serve alcohol. Not wanting to draw attention to yourself or sour the deal with a prospective client can add pressure to drink.
- Coping Needs. Men are more comfortable sharing a drink to support a buddy who is grieving a loss than talking about their feelings. They can use alcohol to avoid dealing with pain they don’t feel free to express, even among close friends.
Traditionally, men are the protectors and providers of a home, the strong ones, and the problem solvers in this society. When addiction interferes with a man’s ability to do what he thinks is expected of him, it can damage his self-image and cause friction between him and other family members. It’s only a matter of time before they will have to confront him with his addiction and its consequences, such as absenteeism, financial difficulty, altered behavior, declining health, and legal problems. Specifically-designed addiction treatment for fathers and spouses can provide tools to repair those relationships wounded by fear and dishonesty.
Because all program participants face similar problems, they can support each other through recovery. Men are more likely to discuss such issues among others with similar experiences than in a mixed crowd. As much as peer pressure can be a negative force in addiction, peer support can heal.
As men enter into and respond to addiction differently than women, treatment plans tailored to fit a man’s physiology and psychology improve his chances of success. For example, men respond better to recognizing thought patterns and behavioral responses rather than focusing on self-reflection. They learn to recognize their triggers and identify coping techniques to get them past moments of temptation.
Men also express themselves through physical activity more so than women. An all-male addiction recovery program should incorporate a variety of sports and other activities that raise dopamine levels naturally.
If you are fighting addiction, know you don’t have to fight alone. As impossible as it may seem to stop using, no matter how many times you’ve tried before to quit, there is hope. Find a treatment center that is committed not only to your immediate sobriety but to your success for the long term. Gender-specific treatment and support groups will give you the weapons to fight back and reclaim your life.
For more information on how to start your recovery journey, call us at 855-736-7262.