“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. To get to authenticity, you keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.” Meredith Monk
Men and Women Experience Addiction Differently
From the time we’re children, we’re taught that boys and girls are different. This theme continues throughout life, as men and women we face different struggles and issues throughout our lives. There is no better way to look at the difference than when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment.
Men and women experience addiction differently. Although many of the substances abused are the same, the descent into addiction and the recovery from them is different. Women tend to progress in their addiction more rapidly than men, while men tend to have a higher tolerance before dependence occurs. Women have a higher chance of relapse than men due to hormonal changes that contribute to drug cravings through the menstrual cycle.
People turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping skill for many reasons. One of the most predominant, especially among females is sexual abuse. More than 70% of female drug users have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16, that’s an astronomical statistic. Although sexual abuse statistics in men who abuse drugs and alcohol are lower, it does still happen.
These are just two of the main differences that make it a good idea to utilize gender-specific drug and alcohol treatment.
Why Gender-Specific Treatment?
Gender-specific treatment can make a huge difference in how effective treatment can be. As addicts, we cut ourselves off from our emotions and bury everything. Coming into treatment and trudging up years of internal garbage means getting vulnerable. With sensitive issues such as sexual abuse, a mixed gender group therapy session could be counterproductive.
Men have long had expectations placed on them to be ‘tough,’ they aren’t supposed to show emotions. An individual also perpetuates those expectations onto themselves. Being in a group of men where it’s a commonplace to work through your emotions it allows for them to let their guard down. It also opens the door to form emotional bonds with other men, something that is necessary to have a strong sober support system.
Women are often taught to be ‘ladies’ this comes with many preconceived notions of what a lady is. Drug addiction is not a glamorous event. The depths that women go to support their habit cause intense feelings of guilt and shame. That is something many women have in common with each other. Along with sexual trauma, this can cause women to continue in their addictions. Many also have issues when it comes to men, as men have problems with women.
Gender-specific treatment allows for less judgment. Discussions of common experiences can help inspire growth and healing. Also, the opposing gender won’t get stuck in gender-specific discussions that don’t apply to them.
How has Gender-Specific Treatment Been Beneficial?
Most who have been to treatment before have heard of a “rehab romance.” That’s also another way to spell disaster in most cases. When coming into treatment we often unintentionally seek validation from others, especially from the opposite sex. It makes us feel good for a moment, and addicts thrive on instant gratification, especially in the early stages of recovery.
Gender-specific addiction treatment takes that out of the equation. It also opens the door for women to form strong bonds with women, and men to form strong bonds with men. This is something that is highly recommended in 12-step fellowships, which should be part of the aftercare plan regardless of gender. Read more on gender-specific meetings here.
GateHouse Gender-Specific Treatment
Here at GateHouse, we offer gender-specific treatment for both men and women. We offer men’s Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient services in New Hampshire and Florida. GateHouse also offers a Women’s Intensive Outpatient Program in New Hampshire. We support the idea of gender-specific treatment. We have seen it work amazingly in the lives of those who have come through our program.