3 Determining Factors for Choosing Gender-Specific Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there is no one right path to recovery that is the best choice for every individual. It is important to consider individual characteristics when making treatment decisions. For some people, the best treatment program is one that is gender-specific.

If you are ready to recovery from addiction to amphetamines, some possible reasons to consider gender-specific treatment include the following.

Emotional Comfort

For a variety of reasons, people may simply feel more comfortable in a same-gender environment. Sometimes this is due to a history of abuse. When people experience abuse at the hands of someone of the opposite sex, it can affect their view of the opposite gender and their ability to fully relax in a mixed-sex group. This can be addressed in treatment, and addressing it within the context of same-gender treatment may be the best approach.

Sometimes, no abuse is involved, but other elements of personal history make people feel more comfortable among others of the same sex. This may be simply due to family makeup, such as having all brothers, but no sisters, or attending an all-female or all-male school. Recovering from addiction takes focus and emotional energy. If people feel that their emotional energy will be drained by being in a mixed-gender environment, they may choose a gender-specific program to avoid that.

Gender-related Physical and Emotional Needs

Women may have specific needs related to childbearing or childcare. Women who are pregnant may benefit from a program that focuses on specific pregnancy-related concerns. Those with infants may want a program that provides for childcare and the ability to continue nursing a baby during treatment.

There are physical differences in the ways that men and women metabolize and are affected by drugs and alcohol, and some people may wish to choose a gender-specific program that recognizes and focuses on these differences. A 2013 BU Today article notes that alcohol abuse decreases the white matter in brains of both men and women, but that the area of the loss differs. For men, the corpus callosum is affected, while the cortex is more affected in women. The article also notes that there are gender differences in the rate of brain healing, with women recovering more rapidly than men.

Men and women may also abuse substances for different reasons, and understanding these can help focus treatment. Gender-related reasons for abusing substances may be due to physical, emotional and social differences. A 2014 article in the Hartford Courant reports on a study finding that the neurotransmitter dopamine is activated in both male and female smokers, but that in women, the part of the brain associated with habit formation is affected, while in men, it is the part of the brain that reinforces psychoactive effects.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that substance abuse among women is often related to interpersonal relationships. They are often introduced to drugs or alcohol by friends, boyfriends, or family members and view shared substance use as a way to maintain ties. Women are more likely than men to relapse as a result of interpersonal conflict and to relapse in the presence of a significant other.

Less Distraction in Rehab

For heterosexual patients, same-gender rehab programs may reduce romance-related distractions. When people become abstinent from drugs and alcohol, there is often a tendency to fill newly available time with romantic relationships. For a number of reasons, most recovery experts recommend against forming new romantic relationships during rehab and early recovery. While people are learning new habits and skills, it is wise to maintain focus, and a new romance can steal time and energy from the goal.

Romantic relationships formed during rehab may not be as healthy as they could be, because the people involved are still working on issues raised during treatment and have not had enough time to resolve them. Emotions also tend to be unstable during early recovery. It is not uncommon for people to experience depression or anxiety as part of withdrawal, and episodes can continue for a while as the brain heals and regains balance. When people have been in recovery for a while and are emotionally stronger, they make better romantic partners. When relationships are formed too soon, there may be a degree of volatility and pain that is counterproductive to the recovery process.

Begin to Break Free

If you are ready to overcome addiction to amphetamines or other substance and would like to identify and discuss your options, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are knowledgeable and compassionate and understand the issues involved. They can answer your questions and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. You have nothing to lose by calling—and much to gain. Call now and begin to break free.