Addiction is a disease that comes to many different kinds of people, in many different ways. It claims the lives of people from every walk of life imaginable, and affects in different ways, creating millions of unique stories and struggles. Both women and men suffer from addiction, but they often suffer in different ways, and may respond differently to treatment.
As a result, many places that offer treatment from addiction may provide gender specific services, and separate men from women. Specifically, gender specific treatment promotes focus, removes distractions or anxieties that may otherwise take away from a focus on personal healing. Here are some of the ways in which gender specific treatment allows people to better focus on their recovery.
Gender Specific Treatment Provides Support
Early recovery is an extremely stressful process. It involves fighting against very intense physical and mental cravings, learning how to develop new coping mechanisms for stressful feelings that will crop up, and having to face hard moments in your life.
There is enough stress in your life simply by being a part of this hard process of working towards sobriety and healing, and so it is good to do whatever you can to be as comfortable and focused as possible. Having a space of men-only, or women-only space is one way to produce feelings of comfort, and make things as easy as possible.
A Safe Place
Peer support groups, in which a group of people struggling with addiction and recovery share their past and present issues, can be one of the most valuable and helpful ways for people to explore their inner feelings and learn from each other. However, the effectiveness of these groups is dependent on the willingness of its members to share honestly and be vulnerable with each other. Being honest with yourself and counselors is at the core of addiction treatment programs from initial treatment to after care.
The group must be a space where people can be totally safe with each other, and where people are encouraged and made to feel comfortable revealing their most vulnerable self. In a mixed gender space, the subconscious temptation for men or women to “impress” each other may kick in and prevent real intimate sharing.
Also, some people may feel less comfortable sharing about certain issues with members of the other gender present. Creating men or women only spaces is one way in which a support group can work to make sure that everyone feels safe within it.
Focus On The Ways Men And Women Experience Addiction Differently
Both men and women come to the recovery process with a lot of stigma, guilt, and fear that sometimes gets in the way of letting them ask for help. Yet this fear often gets manifested differently for men and women, in ways that reflect their different experiences, areas of concern, and social roles.
Women are often more likely to experience feelings of shame for needing help with addiction, whereas men may be more likely to deny there is a problem in the first place. Women are often more anxious about things related to family relationships, whereas men are often more concerned about careers. Limited our focus to one gender or the other allows for greater sensitivity and awareness to these issues.
Takes The Focus Off Romantic Relationships
Recovery is one of the most intense and revolutionary things you will do as a person, and so the people you go through these experiences with can easily become some of the most intense and profound relationships in your life. These friendships can be extremely helpful in giving both people a sense of human connection, and hope from a common experience.
These relationships get a great deal of value from their stability, so that you continue to be sharing intimately as you work through complex feelings together. That is why deep friendships are so valuable. More whirlwind, unstable romances can have the opposite effect, and so should be avoided in early recovery. This is precisely why most rehab centers will not allow romantic relationships in their residential or sober living programs. A same-gender environment allows the formation of friendships, while making romances less likely.