Drug addiction and alcoholism are significant problems in the United States. While addiction is a chronic disease affecting both genders, research suggests men and women may experience different challenges during addiction treatment. According to Mcshin Foundation, addiction treatment should be tailored to different people’s needs. Understanding gender differences in addiction and applying gender-specific methods can help addiction treatment.
Why Does Addiction Affect Both Genders Differently?
Addiction causes the same types of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. So then, why do addiction specialists urge gender-specific care? Many studies have shown that women in recovery face different obstacles and challenges than men. Women are less likely to develop an alcohol or drug addiction. However, it progresses more quickly, causing stronger physical and psychological effects. These differences could be due to body weight, fat percentages, or metabolic differences between genders.
What is Gender-Specific Treatment?
Gender-specific addiction treatment is a therapeutic approach to treating addiction disorders in both men and women. It considers the differences between men and women and adapts the treatment to address those needs and challenges. While gender-specific treatment offers the same evidence-based addiction treatment programs, it is slightly modified to fit the requirements of the specific gender.
Why is Gender-Specific Treatment Important?
Addiction treatment professionals are increasingly realizing the importance of gender-specific treatment programs to overcome addiction. Below are four primary reasons why gender-specific treatment may be helpful for both men and women to overcome their addiction:
Physiological Differences Between Women and Men
Men and women develop addiction and handle rehabilitation differently. Women typically have lower body weight and a higher body fat percentage. This physiological difference can impact recovery. The woman’s body will store substances in fatty tissues and cells for a longer period. As a result, alcohol and drugs will affect women longer than men. Their bodies will also take longer to metabolize these substances and eliminate them.
Women Could Be More Vulnerable
Women are more vulnerable to abuse when addicted or when starting on the road to recovery. A gender-specific addiction treatment program can help recovering addicts avoid issues related to romantic relationships during their recovery. This is particularly important during the early stages of the rehab process.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues
Most people who struggle with addiction also suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition. As a result, they may be more susceptible to suggestions and people taking advantage of them. They could also feel threatened by the opposite gender if they have had bad experiences. Providing gender-specific treatment makes such individuals feel safe among people of their gender. The treatment also focuses on mental health issues more likely to affect a specific gender and offers an environment more conducive to the recovery process.
The Stigma of Addiction
Women may face double the stigma of addiction when compared to men. Many assume that women who are addicted to drugs have loose morals. As a result, women struggling with addiction may feel judged if they seek help. Gender-specific rehab centers help remove the stigma. They provide men and women-only facilities, emphasizing that addiction doesn’t discriminate between genders. These facilities provide a safe environment for both men and women to explore the reasons why they get addicted in the first place. With gender-specific addiction treatments, men and women can overcome both their addiction and the social shame associated with it.
Benefits of Gender-Specific Treatment
Gender-specific treatment can be highly beneficial for people who are addicted to substances. Below are some of its advantages:
Fewer Distractions During Rehab
Sometimes, being around a person of the opposite gender can become a distraction during rehab. It can create physical, emotional, and mental sexual tension, shifting the focus from the healing process. It may sometimes also get difficult speaking about your specific issues with people of the opposite gender in the room. You may respond better to treatment when these potential distractions are removed.
Peer support and interaction are critical to success during addiction treatment. Sharing life experiences with others who can relate to you can help you during your healing journey and encourage you to participate in therapy. People of each gender may face specific challenges that only peers of the same gender will understand. Opening up to people of the same gender in a peer group can help you feel understood and supported.
Specific men’s and women’s treatment programs are likely to be more effective in treating addiction than generic therapy and group sessions. Understanding that men and women have specific addiction-related issues goes a long way in developing treatment programs tailored to their needs. This leads to more effective treatment and higher success rates. Getting the help designed for their specific issues will also encourage men and women to stay in therapy and participate actively in the recovery sessions.
Acknowledging you have an addiction and seeking help is the first step toward recovery. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction and need help, contact Mcshin Foundation. They are a non-profit, full-service addiction recovery center that helps individuals and families with tools and programs to recover from substance abuse and create positive lifestyles.