Gender Specific Treatment for Substance Abuse

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Gender Specific vs Coed Rehabs: The Benefits of Gender Specific Treatment for Substance Abuse

There’s a phrase that comes up time and time again when covering the subject of substance abuse treatment and recovery: there is no cookie cutter rehabilitation. Each and every recovering addict has their own set of needs and wants when trying to obtain a life free of drugs and alcohol, and while addiction is a disease that can affect all genders, it does not affect each gender in the same manner. In that same vein, different genders may need different treatments to be effective. There are many reasons gender specific treatment for substance abuse are beneficial.

The experiences that each gender goes through when struggling with addiction can be very different, and these experiences end up forming the basis of each patient’s treatment plan. While it is possible to use a blanket treatment option that’s intended to work for all patients, it will not be nearly as effective as one that caters to the unique experiences and feelings that make each patient’s experience their own. Gender specific treatment for substance abuse has many benefits due to it’s focus on the different experiences of each gender. In addition, it also attempts to provide an environment of support and treatment, without unhealthy distractions.

Gender Differences in Substance Abuse Treatment

To further explain some of the differences in needs between the sexes during recovery, here are a few facts about women’s recovery.

  • While women’s body weight tends to lower on average than men’s body weight, women tend to carry more body fat. Body fat holds onto alcohol longer than water content does, and exposes the body’s organs to the effects of alcohol longer than men’s bodies. This can cause more rapid deterioration of the body, and can make the consequences of abuse more severe in shorter spans of time.
  • In addition to a higher concentrate of body fat, women have lower levels of the enzymes necessary to break down alcohol when ingested. This means that their blood alcohol content will increase much more rapidly than it will in men’s bodies. This can pose a potential risk when it comes to over drinking, driving, etc.
  • Studies have shown that women who use illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, transition from initial use to dependence more quickly than other genders. They have reported problems of greater severity as well, but these cannot be substantiated on any concrete level aside from more health related consequences on average.
  • Approximately 4.5 million women in the US have a substance abuse issue. 3.1 million use illicit drugs on a regular basis and 3.5 million misuse prescription medications.

In addition to these facts, it’s important to note that when recovering addicts report their reasons for relapse, the difference between genders, in regards to causes, become very apparent. This is one of the biggest arguments for gender specific treatment for substance abuse.

Using and abusing addictive substances comes with an inherent health risk. In most cases these risks take the shape of injuries, accidents, overdose, and death. In addition to these risks are the risks associated with lack of judgment, and a desire to acquire more of the abused substance. This can lead to numerous risky behaviors, some of which recovering addicts may not feel comfortable talking about in front of the opposite sex.  When we look at gender specific vs coed rehabs, we’re looking at the difference that may make a recovering addict more comfortable with sharing their experiences. Risky behaviors while using substances can put addicts at a higher risk for sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, and other emotionally damaging situations that patients may need or want to talk about. It’s important that patients feel comfortable sharing these experiences during recovery.

Whatever your gender or situation, the most important aspect of choosing a rehabilitation center is choosing what will benefit your recovery most. Gender differences in substance abuse treatment can seem like a huge divide at times, and if you think you’re recovery process would benefit from a Gender Specific Treatment Center, then we encourage you to look into the best treatment facilities in your area that offer it.