23 Sep The Advantages of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment
The Differences Between Men and Women
Some of the ways that men and women generally differ in their development of and response to addiction include :
Development of the Disease: While addiction causes changes in brain function in both men and women, the manifestations of these changes is different. The instances of violence, depression, sexual risks, and other addictive behaviors are drastically different between genders.
Access to Treatment: There are barriers to treatment for nearly every addict, but women and men tend to cite different ones. Women are largely worried about childcare and social stigma when seeking treatment. Men are worried about the financial aspects, and being perceived as weak.
Response to Treatment: The issues surrounding addiction are often different between men and women. Women often need to address issues like sexual abuse, eating disorders, and unhealthy relationships. Men often need to address issues like anger management, father/son relationships, and emotional distance.
These examples are obviously generalities, but they tend to hold true in the majority of cases. Offering gender-specific treatment is a way for health professionals to offer more individualized treatment programs for each participant.
Stronger Bonds and Open Communication
Many participants in a group treatment setting will feel more apprehensive about sharing their feelings and experiences around members of the opposite sex. Limiting the groups by gender allows members to be more open and honest in their communication. This also allows them access to deeper friendships and stronger bonds between one another. A strong support system within a treatment program is essential to the recovery process, and gender-specific treatment is the best way to provide this.
Staying focused is one of the major challenges of addiction treatment, and this challenge only becomes more difficult in the presence of the opposite sex. Sexual attraction is natural, but it can detract from the work that needs to be done in recovery. Addicts who are healing from their disease are particularly vulnerable during the early days of recovery, and forming healthy romantic relationships is nearly impossible, especially with others in recovery. Gender-specific treatment programs remove this distraction, and allow participants to be able to focus more wholly on getting better.
Author: Ally Keenan