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Happy Group Of PeopleThe process of healing in treatment is different for everyone, and programs can vary greatly in how they are structured. For addiction treatment and recovery, one size does not fit all, and you should seek a program that is tailored to your specific needs including gender. Making the decision to begin a treatment program can also be complicated by stress and uncertainty. Anything that can help you become more comfortable with a treatment program, will ultimately help you get that much closer to recovery. This is one of the reasons why gender-specific programs can be extremely helpful in the recovery transition.

By definition gender-specific treatment can be simply defined as program options designed to treat only men or women.

Women and Men Are Uniquely Different

The path to addiction is very different for men and women. Great progress in addiction treatment has been made over the years in responding to the differences in experiences men and women face during addiction recovery and beyond.

According to an National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) publication on gender and treatment services, women are less likely to seek help than men and more likely to feel shame for doing so.[1] Women who struggle with addiction often feel isolated from the rest of society because of the intense stigma and shame they feel. In general, men tend to abuse substances to increase positive moods, and as a coping mechanism in dealing with social and behavioral problems. Women tend to abuse drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication in an attempt to deal with emotional and psychological stress.

Treatment programs that cater specifically to women can help women better deal with the emotional feelings of shame and other issues. The same holds true for programs tailored for men.

Mixed Gender Treatment

Gender-specific treatment also eliminates the possible distraction between the opposite sex. Early in recovery, it is important for men and women to work through the underlying causes of their addiction without attempting to replace the void with a newfound relationship. Mixed-gender treatment can be viewed as a distraction to those who need to spend time working on themselves.

Benefits of Women-Specific Treatment

Women tend to abuse drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication in an attempt to deal with emotional and psychological issues. With treatment catered to the needs of women, some of the following benefits can result:

  • Group therapy with other women who may have similar life experiences allowing for a sense of support and empowerment, especially in areas of spousal abuse or emotional abuse
  • Therapies that tap into, and stimulate creativity such as art, music therapy, mindfulness and meditation
  • Increased emphasis on mental health intervention and attention to co-occurring disorders like anxiety, eating disorders and depression

Benefits of Male-Specific Treatment

Men tend to abuse drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with social and behavioral problems to help increase positive moods. With treatment catered to the needs of men, some of the following issues can be addressed and treated individually:

  • Relationships, especially relating to other men who have experienced similar situations
  • Anger and aggression
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Sexual issues
  • Competition/Work and work-related stress
  • Compulsive Behavior/Deception

Shared Life Experiences

The more the recovering addict has in common with the peers in his/her group, the more open to sharing and joining in discussions will happen. When a person in recovery feels like they are not alone, sharing life experiences becomes easier and can go a long way to helping focus on the positive.

Dedicated to Gender-Specific Treatment

To learn more about the advantages of gender-specific and gender-separate approach to women’s drug treatment and men’s drug treatment, or to enroll in a gender-specific treatment program, call our nationwide drug and alcohol abuse help line at 1.888.758.9677 to talk with an experienced treatment counselor.

Professional drug treatment counselors are available 24/7 and will always answer your call anytime of day.


Covenant Hills Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs, located in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas, provide treatment programs for young adults via intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and residential care. For more information, call for a free evaluation at 888.758.9677.