Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction affects men and women of all ages, races, nationalities, occupations, and socioeconomic classes. However, that does not necessarily mean that addiction affects everyone in the same way. Men and women often begin substance use for different reasons, and their bodies are impacted differently as well. This makes seeking gender-responsive treatment for addiction even more important. To make the most of recovery, each gender needs to be in an environment tailored to their unique needs.
While women often use drugs or alcohol as a way of trying to forge or cope with relationships, men often use these substances as a way to avoid relationship challenges. Drinking or drug use is used as a means of escaping and forgetting about the world for a while.
It also tends to be more socially acceptable for men to drink, and alcohol use is a sign of masculinity. Men may drink more than they intended to or in greater quantities as a way of proving themselves or competing with peers.
In addition, while women often turn to substance use as a way of avoiding dealing with painful emotions, men look toward what they can gain from drugs or alcohol. They could view benefits as increased confidence, improved energy, or more focus to work longer and harder. However, these perceived benefits are often short-lived and outweighed by less desirable effects.
Both genders are at risk for misuse of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens, but men are more likely to misuse alcohol and marijuana while women turn to sedatives or prescription medications for anxiety or insomnia.
With all of these differences in how addiction affects men and women, it should come as no surprise that there are differences in how it is treated as well. As researchers have learned more about the impact of addiction on each gender, this has led the way to gender-responsive treatment. Instead of treating men and women together using the same approaches and techniques, some rehab facilities have tailored their programs for each gender.
Comfort: This is one reason gender-specific care can be beneficial. When men and women are treated together, they often try to uphold images of how they think they should act or what the other gender expects. When treated separately, they can be themselves and let their guard down engaging in more honest and meaningful discussion.
Men may feel more comfortable talking with other men, especially about sensitive issues related to their addiction. There is less judgment and defensiveness. Men are able to connect with and support one another regarding common issues they face.
Focused Discussion: Treatment can also be tailored to the unique challenges men face. This can make for more productive and meaningful discussion. In co-ed treatment, conversation may become focused on issues that primarily affect women and men may become disinterested or disconnected because they have trouble relating or don’t have anything to add. Being surrounded by all men, they can focus on topics that impact men where they have more to say and a greater connection to issues.
Less Distraction: Men and women can be a distraction to one another, and while in addiction treatment, they may feel especially vulnerable. Gender-responsive treatment helps to remove this distraction and allows men to focus on their recovery and overcoming addiction. There is also less pressure to appear strong and masculine, so men are more apt to be open with their emotions.
Tailored Treatment: In addition, the strategies that work best for women may not be as effective for men. With gender-responsive treatment, care can be tailored using approaches that men respond to more effectively. Men can determine what works best for their needs and recovery.
Addiction is a manageable disease, and recovery is possible with the right treatment and support. It is important for men to find a program like Experience Recovery that focuses on the unique challenges men face when it comes to substance use and recovery. When men feel more comfortable and understood, they can make the most of their treatment and truly focus on building a healthier life. Experience Recovery provides gender-responsive treatment for men and empowers them in their recovery, so don’t put off getting help any longer. Make a change today.
If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, Experience Recovery can help. Our admissions line is open 24/7.