Addiction is a problem that affects people of all ages, backgrounds, races, genders, and more. But, even though two people are facing addiction to the same substance, it doesn’t mean that the treatment program should be implemented in the same way. There are inherent differences in the way people fall into addiction, as well as the way they will respond to treatment. So, the best solution is to design a custom treatment program that will cater to the experiences of the individual.
Gender is one important factor that needs to be considered when designing a treatment program. Splitting the treatment groups by gender isn’t a discriminatory act. Instead, it is a way to address the unique experiences that are faced by self-identifying men and women. This gender-based treatment approach gives each person a comfortable, safe place to heal without facing distractions that could come up in mixed-gender treatment programs.
Addiction: Different Experiences for Different Genders
Not only are there unique emotional and mental factors that need to be addressed in addiction recovery, but there are physiological differences in the way men and women respond to various substances. Here are a few interesting facts shared by NCADD:
- Body Fat Percentage: Women naturally have a higher body fat percentage, which can influence the detox process. Alcohol can be retained in the fatty cells, which means that a woman’s organs could be exposed to the toxins from the alcohol for a longer period since there are more fat cells to store the alcohol compared to men.
- Enzymes: Certain enzymes in the body can break down alcohol in the liver and stomach. But, it has been found that women have lower levels of these enzymes than men, which means that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream at a faster rate. If a man and woman both have the same number of drinks, then it could have as much as 2x the impact on the woman compared to the man.
- Progression: It is common for men to experience a slower progression in addiction compared to women. As a result, the recovery can be quite different. The slow progression can make it easier for men to avoid serious relapse in recovery.
- Relationships: The initial use of the drug differs between the genders, which means that the treatment needs to be catered to the experiences. For example, it is common for women to be involved with drugs due to pressures or habits in a personal relationship. Sexual abuse can also play a role in the development of an addiction. These factors need to be addressed to achieve the best holistic recovery for each person.
- Benefits: Men tend to start using alcohol or drugs due to the perceived benefits that are available from the use of these substances. Motivating factors might be the ability to improve performance, have a good time, or increase work hours. In comparison, benefits for women are often based on the escape from stress and emotions.
One Size Does Not Fit All
In general, treatment programs need to be different for men and women. Often, there are different reasons for starting alcohol or drug use. So, the treatment programs need to consider these foundational factors to help the person overcome the patterns that are feeding the addiction.
Also, if a woman is battling a substance abuse addiction that is related to any form of physical or sexual abuse, then it is possible that having men involved could hinder the recovery. Overcoming an addiction is a vulnerable, challenging process, which is why it is critical that a safe, comfortable environment is provided to assist with the recovery.
Various drug treatment centers offer gender-specific treatment programs, making it easy to access the best recovery services based on your needs. These gender-based programs have unique goals and expectations based on the people in the group, helping to optimize the long-term benefits that are available.