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Gender Specific Rehabilitation for Women

Substance abuse is a condition best treated through individualized treatment tailored to the needs of each patient. All competent, evidence-based rehab centers customize their programs to individual needs – a young person who has been addicted for only a few months, for example, sees a very different treatment approach when compared to a middle-aged person who has been addicted for years. There is one kind of treatment customization that is important and rarely offered by rehabs: it is gender specific rehabilitation for women.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 09 2023 | Updated Mar 11 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Why Gender Specific Rehabilitation is Vital for Women

For those who aren’t familiar with the ways in which addiction and addiction treatment work, the need for such treatment might seem difficult to grasp. Certainly, some gender differences do exist when it comes to women and substance abuse; women tend to turn to addictive behavior less often than men, and tend to access treatment less often. Does gender specific rehabilitation for women instead of mixed-gender rehab really offer benefits in treatment, however?

There is research that shows that it does

According to research published in the Journal of Drug Issues, women who graduate from gender specific treatment for substance abuse tend to enjoy better chances of employment, once treatment concludes. The analysis of 5,000 women has found that more women graduating from programs that are designed to be sensitive to gender differences in substance abuse treatment are found to be employed a year later. Employment is particularly important, because with employment comes hope, independence and a useful way to occupy one’s time, all of which are important to continued interest in sobriety.

Gender specific rehabilitation is important in certain patient subgroups

Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly seen among female substance abusers. There are many reasons why this should be so. Increased socialization with male drug users who tend to be out of control is one common reason. Such women tend to be extremely fearful around men; understandably, they tend to not respond well in treatment settings that include men as either therapists or as fellow patients.

Pregnant women tend to do better in women-only programs as well, simply because they have special needs that are usually not catered to at regular, mixed-gender rehabs – labor and delivery, pregnancy care, child care, mental health care and so on.

Camaraderie is an important contributor to rehab success

Addiction is a mental disorder. The ability to achieve psychological engagement in rehab treatment, is an important contributor to the success of the treatment that any patient receives. Such engagement is particularly helpful when camaraderie is made possible among peers at an inpatient treatment center. In many cases, women at gender specific treatment for substance abuse are able to perceive a sisters-in-arms form of camaraderie. Women residents at rehabs tend to understand the feelings and difficulties of their fellow residents far better than men could, because they have truly been in their shoes. In these environments, the camaraderie, by itself, tends to help women residents feel a greater degree of determination and desire to get better.

Therapy tends to work better in a single-gender environment

In group therapy environments, the subjects under discussion need to be of interest to everyone present. In mixed-gender group therapy, subjects that tend to be of interest to women – feelings of shame and embarrassment at losing custody, gynecological health issues or sex, among other things – tend to simply be difficult to bring up. Incidentally, mixed-gender treatment doesn’t work well for men, either. Often, men tend to hold back when there are women present, simply because they do not want to appear weak.

There is some research to show that access to single-gender rehab does improve long-term sobriety for women. It’s an important advantage to come by when dealing with a very difficult health condition. If you’d like to know more about gender specific rehabilitation and how to find the right addiction treatment for your needs, call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet Sage Journals
"Women’s Employment Outcomes Following Gender-Sensitive Substance Abuse Treatment"
Retrieved on July 11, 2017

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