Although gender-specific treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) is not brand new, it’s still a novel concept to many people. As it’s not been implemented as a standard form of treatment in all facilities, the nature of how it works and what advantages it provides has not yet reached a level of widespread awareness. So, today, let’s talk about what makes gender-specific treatment for women a highly effective option, whether the SUD is tied to alcohol, opiates, benzos, or any other substance.
Gender-specific treatment often comes in programs designed to meet the needs of women with both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. These programs are staffed by women with an extensive understanding of how addiction affects genders differently, and they provide a safe environment for female patients to address all areas of their recovery. Within this safe space, a woman receives unconditional support, gains a sense of empowerment, and finds opportunities to discuss gender-specific issues related to her substance use and mental health.
Gender-specific treatment for women recognizes physiological differences in substance use.
Addiction specialists can help women understand the nature of their addiction as it’s influenced by their own bodies. Examples of physiological differences for women include a faster progression of substance use once one develops and stronger physiological effects as a result. One reason that women develop SUDs at faster rates is the longer period needed to metabolize substances.
Gender-specific treatment for women offers a safe environment for recovery.
Women with a substance use disorder need a safe space that’s solely about empowering them to be an active part of their own recovery. This element is especially important for women whose substance use may have a negative or even traumatic connection with the men in their life. In the safe space of treatment among other women, a patient can openly address the factors of her life that have contributed to her substance use.
Gender-specific treatment for women emphasizes the importance of mental health in sustaining recovery.
Addiction specialists focus on the underlying reasons for a substance use disorder in women, and a frequent underlying reason is often a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Addressing childhood or adulthood trauma, for example, may come in several different treatment strategies, such as trauma therapies, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback, and meditation and mindfulness training. This work on improving a woman’s mental health can be integrated into a larger multidisciplinary program for substance use.
Gender-specific treatment for women recognizes the power in shared experiences.
In treatment with other women, what’s shared is virtually limitless, and all of it is important. It can be how body image and self-esteem affect you, where you struggle in your role as a mother, how work demands and workplace relationships affect you, or anything else that’s shaped your thinking. Through these authentic sharing moments, you’re building a community with other women and learning and growing from one another’s experiences. You’re also learning what healthy relationships should look like following your treatment program.
Gender-specific treatment for women provides solutions for the gender’s higher relapse rates.
Recognizing a higher relapse rate in women following a program, gender-specific treatment places an early emphasis on continuing care to sustain a long-term recovery. This continuing care could be transitioning to an intensive outpatient program or ongoing trauma therapies. The early introduction to a longer-term plan is essential, and before a program comes to an end, a patient who is equipped with a plan of action through the help of her addiction specialists—and the support of her family—will have a higher likelihood of keeping that recovery going longer.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.