Facing addiction can be scary. It takes a lot of courage to come out of the shadows and admit you’re suffering from addiction. Addiction has turned you into someone you do not recognize — someone who hides, lies about her activities and lives with an abundance of guilt and shame every day.
Having the strength to admit you need help is the first step in a very important journey, and choosing the right treatment program for you is an important second step. There are a lot of options for treatment programs — including inpatient or outpatient — and programs that offer various specialties. Gender-specific treatment facilities are also available, and one may be right for you.
What Is a Gender-Specific Rehab Center?
You may be familiar with the concept of gender-specific education. It was very popular a long time ago, and has been revived recently as an alternative to mixed-gender public schools. A gender-specific rehab center is the same idea: An attempt to separate men and women in order to focus on their unique addiction recovery needs.
Addiction recovery is a very personal journey, which means your addiction is different from everyone else’s. It is based on a number of variables, like your substance of choice, the length of time and amount of that substance you have used, your physical health profile, genetic makeup and a whole host of other things.
Your gender actually plays a role in your addiction and, therefore, in your recovery. We find gender differences in all areas of drug abuse statistics:
- Prescription drugs are abused by more males than females.
- According to a 1993 study, boys’ use of drugs exceeded girls’ except for heroin.
- In 2013, 12% of American women were addicted to alcohol compared to 20% of American men.
- In the last year, approximately 9 million women have abused drugs.
- Almost 4 million women take prescription medication for non-medical reasons.
- AIDS cases among women are 70% drug-related.
- Substance abuse treatment admissions for 2011 were 1% female and 66.9% male.
- Women are twice as likely as men to report alcohol as their substance of choice upon treatment admission.
- Men are more likely than women to report marijuana as their substance of choice.
- Women over 65 are three times more likely than men to abuse prescription pain relievers.
These statistics help to illustrate that the addiction problem is different for men and women. It makes sense, then, to separate the genders into different treatment facilities and different programs.
The Benefits of Gender-Specific Rehab
While you are making all the other choices to find the right addiction recovery program for you, consider these benefits of a gender specific rehabilitation facility:
- Discussing sensitive issues can be easier in a women’s-only rehab center. Addiction recovery gets into some very personal emotional issues. Often, women discover their addiction is rooted in childhood abuse or sexual trauma. It is important to explore those feelings in recovery, and some people find it very difficult in mixed-gender settings.
- It is easier to build a rapport with the other participants in the program if you share a common gender. Women, especially, find bonding difficult, and in rehab it’s a necessity. An all-female recovery program eliminates some of the tougher issues and potential competition among participants. Camaraderie tends to be stronger, providing the support you need.
- There are common themes among women in addiction recovery such as eating disorders, parenting issues, body-image and self-esteem. Some men experience these issues, but they are mostly in the female domain. With an all-women’s treatment facility, these issues can become the focus without leaving anyone out of the discussion. One of the healing aspects of rehab is connecting with others who share your experiences.
Who Does This Work Best For?
Single-gender addiction recovery programs work best for women. The history of medicine and, specifically, psychology and addiction treatment, is rooted in the male experience. The field was dominated by men traditionally, although that’s not the case any longer. All of the studies were done on male populations until recent years, and there is still a lag in research on female-specific issues.
Women can benefit greatly from a women-only rehab program, because they would get a more tailored approach to their needs. In a women-only program, you know some attention has been paid to understanding the specific gender-related issues women face in conjunction with addiction. The differences in addiction between men and women are explored in the treatment options available at a women-only facility.
Men vs. Women Rehab
There are clearly differences between men and women in addiction. Women tend to become addicted faster than men, and their choice of substances is different. Since genetics and physical health play a role in addiction, there are obvious differences between the genders. Even the way men and women process emotions is a factor in how, why and when they become addicted, as well as when and how they seek help.
Given all of the differences between men and women in addiction, it’s clear they have different needs in rehabilitation programs. Although all of the differences have not been explored scientifically, and there is much more to study, here are some differences we know about:
- Women and men seem to have the same response to addiction treatment. Although there are some studies that suggest a variance, in general, men and women have the same recovery and relapse rates. Women tend to be more likely to ask for help sooner, and this trait may increase their chances of avoiding relapse.
- Both men and women find it difficult to get treatment for addiction. They face some of the same barriers, which include family obligations, financial concerns and a general lack of social support. In addition, women face a more negative social stigma associated with drug abuse and addiction.
- Women who suffer from addiction face more serious consequences than their male counterparts. Overall, women have more serious health complications due to drug abuse. They tend to use drugs for a shorter period of time than men, but face the same hurdles to recovery. Women tend to become addicted faster than men and also face more serious psychological effects from drug abuse.
- Drug abuse causes differ for men and women. Women tend to use drugs to deal with emotional and psychological issues. Men are more likely to look at drugs as mood enhancers or as a means of coping with social problems. In general, men suffer from antisocial personality disorders more than women do, and these issues do not tend to progress to drug abuse. On the other hand, predominantly female psychological issues like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders tend to precipitate drug abuse.
- We cannot have a discussion about the differences between men and women in addiction and recovery without including the hormone factor. Estrogen has been linked to the development of addiction and may explain, at least in part, why women tend to develop addictions faster than men. The menstrual cycle has some effect on developing cravings and relapse, as well.
In order to be effective, an addiction rehabilitation program needs to address these separate needs of men and women in recovery. By treating everyone the same way, we are missing opportunities to maximize each gender’s natural healing potential.
Women’s-Only Rehab Overview
A women’s recovery center offers many of the same things you will find at a top-rated, non-gender-specific facility. Some aspects of recovery are not gender-specific. Addiction rehab requires some basic elements like detox, behavioral therapy and relapse avoidance strategies. The idea is that you get the toxins out of your body and begin dealing with the underlying emotional issues that formed your drug use behaviors. Once the behavioral work is done, you are given strategies for dealing with stress and avoiding relapse.
Rehab designed for women only includes some specialty areas to help women with their specific needs. It has the ability to treat a dual diagnosis, since depression and addiction often come together for women. There are other mental illnesses more likely to be experienced by women that are treatable at a women’s-only facility.
Dealing with family responsibilities is an issue that is very different for women and men. A women-only program gets right to the connection between self-esteem and mothering, for example. It also offers more intense work on self-care and the reasons many women put themselves last. Self-esteem issues are also very important in a women-only rehab program. These are all issues that tend to underlie addiction for women.
All good addiction treatment programs deal with stress and its connection to relapse. A program designed specifically for women, however, takes a different approach to stress avoidance strategies by recognizing that women, by nature, tend to take on everyone else’s stress, too. Stress is a particularly hot-button issue for women, as it’s tied to monthly hormonal changes and addiction relapse.
A women’s-only rehabilitation program provides an atmosphere that is especially comforting to women. It is a place where they can focus on their unique issues and be understood by the people around them. The staff and other participants in the program know exactly the challenges women face as they move through their lives being daughters, wives, mothers and friends.
What’s Different About a Women’s-Only Rehab?
There are a lot of similarities between a general rehab program and a women’s-only rehab. All of the specialties, professionals and treatment modalities are available, and the same basic progression in recovery takes place. The biggest difference is in the overall mood and flavor of a women’s-only program.
By staffing a rehab center with all women, we can concentrate our energy on the nuances of addiction recovery that only women feel. There is a strong connection between the staff and the clients, because they share a common gender experience. There is no male energy to interrupt the healing.
You may have heard the famous movie line, “There is no crying in baseball.” Women-only rehab centers are kind of like that. There is no yelling, or judging or other typically “male” responses to stress. Of course, there’s still occasional crying, but it’s accepted as a natural part of the process. It’s part of life. Emotions are freely discussed — not explained away or apologized for. The female view of the world, with all of its strengths and intricacies, is valued intrinsically.
The main distinctions between treatment programs are inpatient vs. outpatient and mixed gender vs. gender-specific. Here is a brief explanation of each:
- Outpatient: You live at home and continue to work and uphold your family responsibilities. The treatment program is divided into various sessions that you attend in the evening or on weekends. Some outpatient programs take place at a facility, while others are a combination of services from different entities. Your therapist usually coordinates the program in either case.
Outpatient treatment can be difficult to coordinate, especially for women who have a majority of the family responsibilities. Women have higher drop-out rates in recovery, partly because they cannot separate themselves from their daily stresses. It is often helpful for women suffering from addiction to get away from home for a while to work on their recovery.
- Inpatient: You check into inpatient rehab like a hotel. You go and live there for a period of time, surrounded by your new support system. Everything in an inpatient program is geared toward your recovery, including housekeeping chores (if any) and meeting schedules. You attend sessions all day and sometimes into the evening. When you are not in a session, you are communing with other program participants and working toward recovery together.
Inpatient tends to be a comfortable, supportive environment that gets you away from the people and habits you need to avoid. It helps tremendously with abstinence, especially in the early stages of withdrawal. Inpatient surrounds you with healing elements all the time, including compassionate people who can help you get through the long nights.
- Mixed-gender: Either as an inpatient or outpatient program, mixed-gender incorporates men and women into the same program. They may be participants or staff and practitioners. Men and women attend all types of sessions together to work on everything from behavioral management to nutrition and exercise. All discussions, from self-care to anxiety, take place in the presence of both men and women.
A mixed-gender program tends to emphasize male issues, since they’re traditionally the only ones that have been studied. Women find fewer mentors and friends in these programs, because there are fewer people like them. These programs generally have rules about sexual contact, but some of the underlying flirtations are difficult to restrict.
- Gender-specific: Most gender-specific rehabilitation programs are designed for women. Since they were not the traditional focus of addiction treatment, these programs fill that gap for women. They are female-centered in both staffing and participation. These programs tend to devote more energy to issues that most women in recovery experience.
Women-only rehab centers make women feel important and included in a way that many other programs cannot. They allow for open discussions of personal issues, like eating disorders and sexual abuse, in a more supportive environment. Women are better able to connect with the other participants in the program in women-only rehab centers, and find the mentors and friends they need for a successful recovery.
While there are a lot of addiction treatment programs out there, they all come down to just a few different options. Specialties are important, like dual diagnosis and medically supervised detox, but when choosing a rehab program, it’s important to get one suited for your specific needs. If you are a woman, a gender-specific treatment program will provide important benefits for you.
Women’s Drug Rehabilitation
Women get involved in addiction for different reasons than men do. Our psychological outlook is different, as well as our biology. While addiction is a fairly common problem in this country, and treatment centers are available everywhere, women tend to benefit particularly from gender-specific programs.
Addiction recovery is hard no matter who you are or what your story involves. Addiction is a complicated concept that scientists are still learning about. It involves brain chemistry and physical health, as well as psychological well-being. Addiction effects every aspect of your life.
The dangers of addiction are well-documented and serious. No matter how you ended up developing this addiction, it’s a force stronger than you can fight yourself. It will take a whole support team and the intervention of medical science to free you of this disease.
The relapse rate for addiction recovery is high. To overcome the monster of addiction and fight off the prospect of relapse, you want to make use of every tool available to you. There is no such thing as “trying too hard” when it comes to addiction recovery.
One additional tool that’s available to women to help create a lasting recovery from addiction is gender-specific rehab. By focusing on issues that are unique to women in recovery, women-only rehab centers provide added power for women trying to overcome addiction.
By attending a women-only rehab center, you will know you’re taking advantage of every tool available to overcome your addiction. It makes sense to use all you can against this powerful disease. With your strength and the advantages of an all-female rehab program, you can be successful in achieving a lasting recovery from addiction.
Learn More About JourneyPure Voyage
To learn more about women-centered rehab programs, contact JourneyPure Voyage. We offer personalized treatment programs for women in a women’s-only rehab center. Our treatment capability extends to co-occurring disorders and other mental health issues, too. We help our patients recover from addiction and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
At JourneyPure Voyage, our approach to healing is inventive and women-centric. Our all-female staff is experienced and dedicated to healing for each one of our clients. They bring expertise in addiction recovery and the female perspective our clients can identify with.
JourneyPure Voyage is a beautiful community that provides a safe and welcoming environment for your healing journey. Our exceptional facility and resources make us leaders for women’s addiction treatment in Tennessee. We offer thoughtfully planned, highly personalized recovery programs that are centered around each client with a goal of true wellness and a lasting recovery from addiction.