Skip to main content

Young man and woman strolling on a beach.

While all humans have similar wants and needs, some experiences and challenges are shared primarily by members of the same gender. For this reason, many individuals choose gender-specific treatment. Gender specific treatment (also known as gender responsive treatment) is an approach to mental health and substance use disorder recovery that meets the specific needs of a particular gender, whether it be male or female.

Many individuals who seek recovery from substance use or mental health disorders choose gender-specific treatment, whether it be women’s programs, men’s programs, or LGBT-friendly treatment programs. These programs help eliminate the distractions and stressors associated with the opposite sex and put wellness front and center during each patient’s stay.

Gender Specific Treatment for Women

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that women are less likely than men to seek addiction treatment, possibly because they face so many more barriers to obtaining help1. Some of those barriers may include:

  • Obligations to care for children or parents at home
  • Financial struggles
  • Unhealthy home environments, including domestic abuse
  • Difficulty finding appropriate treatment facilities
  • Discomfort or fear due to trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder

Gender specific treatment may help address some of these issues for women. Women-only treatment may offer some important and necessary steps that will help encourage and build long-term wellness. Some valuable benefits of women-only treatment may include:

  • Specialty treatment for trauma, particularly trauma associated with sexual assault or violence toward women
  • Assistance with family counseling, court-mandated parenting classes, or childcare
  • Physicians or nurses who specialize in and understand women’s health
  • Eliminating the distraction or discomfort that some women feel around male patients
  • Treatment that addresses the family and societal expectations of women in a liberating environment

Women now make up nearly 50% of individuals who struggle with substance addiction, but the stigma against substance use disorder and treatment still remains stronger with women than with men2. By entering treatment in a gender supportive program, this stigma may be reduced and each individual woman may feel safer and more relaxed.

It is noteworthy that women who do complete treatment for substance use disorders are nine times more likely to remain sober than women who do not complete treatment, while men who complete addiction treatment are only three times more likely to remain sober3. Furthermore, women who do seek treatment in women’s-only treatment programs report more successful outcomes than women who receive treatment in traditional programs that were originally created for men4.

Gender Specific Treatment for Men

Like women, men also have unique needs when it comes to addiction treatment. First and foremost, it is notable that a number of substances impact men’s and women’s bodies in different ways. Men tend to drink larger amounts and may be more prone to more violent or dangerous behavior than women, depending on the substance used.

Often, men experience some stigma around the emotions involved in relationships and experiences, and it may be more difficult for men to discuss their emotions and concerns comfortably, depending on how rigid their gender-role experiences have been in life. These deeper issues, often involving a sense of loneliness, anxiety, or sadness, may be difficult for men to discuss openly at first, but gender specific treatment allows a safe space for healing and redefining cultural norms.

Men’s only treatment programs help limit distractions in an environment where recovery should come first. When substances are no longer an option, it may be tempting to quickly replace one stimuli for another. Men’s-only treatment programs help bring the focus back to recovery at a time when romance or flirtations may impede the ability to focus on what matters most.

Finding the Best Gender Specific Treatment for You

It’s important to take time to speak with an experienced recovery professional about your needs or the needs of your loved one. Choosing a rehab treatment facility is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one.

Covenant Hills recovery specialists are available 24 hours a day and offer gender specific addiction treatment options and faith-based treatment programs. We take time with you to answer your questions and help find treatment that is right for you, covered by insurance, and help make the transition to a healthier life as easy as possible.

Call us today at 800.662.2873 to learn more about what a treatment program might look like for you. Receive a free assessment without any obligation at all.


This article was submitted by Foundations Recovery Network for Covenant Hills Treatment.



  1. Green, C.A. Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  2. Westermeyer, J., et al. Gender Similarities and Differences. Journal of Addictive Diseases.Volume 22, Issue 4, 2004

3.Green, C.A.; Polen, M.R.; Lynch, F.L.; et al. Gender differences in outcomes in an HMO-based substance abuse treatment program. Journal of Addictive Diseases 23:47–70, 2004.