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Why Gender-Specific Treatment Matters

Feb 28, 2021

Gender can be an important part of the conversation about mental health and substance use disorders. How a program is designed to meet the specific needs of women in treatment can make a big difference. Today, let’s talk about what’s meant by gender-specific treatment and how it can benefit women who want to work towards recovery.

Gender differences in mental health disorders and substance misuse appear in women and men. The variations show up as causes for addiction and outcomes of misusing specific drugs. A gender-specific program provides treatment that’s customized to meet the unique recovery needs of women or men. For women, a relation between trauma and other mental health issues and addiction can be addressed in a safe, supportive space staffed by female addiction professionals.

What gender differences appear in substance use?

The reason for misusing drugs or alcohol can be different in women, and the outcome of substance use can look different, too. For example, women who use marijuana daily are more likely to have panic attacks and anxiety than men who are addicted to it. Women are more likely to report chronic pain and be prescribed opioids, and more likely to misuse these drugs in an attempt to manage mental health symptoms.

What is gender-specific treatment?

Gender-specific treatment is designed to meet the unique recovery needs of a specific group, men and women. In treatment for women, patients only interact with other women in treatment. Therapies are provided by professional women from a variety of addiction-related disciplines. A program encourages women to connect with their peers. They may be more likely to have common ground in experiences misusing drugs and alcohol. Patients in gender-specific treatment may also share related mental health conditions that have gone untreated and worsened their substance use.

What is the benefit of gender-specific treatment?

The primary benefit of gender-specific treatment is the nature of the treatment itself: it is unique to the requirements of your gender. Women who have been unsuccessful in starting or sustaining recovery often benefit from gender-specific treatment. These may be women whose mental health disorder went undiagnosed. Gender-specific programs offering treatment for anxiety, depression, PTSD and trauma, and other mental health disorders can improve a patient’s outcome. Women whose drug and alcohol use is connected to an abusive male partner or family member can benefit from treatment time spent with other women who have experienced something similar.

What barriers does gender-specific treatment help women overcome?

Women face many barriers to seeking and starting treatment. For some women, there may be a lack of “safety” in mixed-gender populations, and women may be hesitant to seek treatment if they feel they have to discuss their problems with men. In many cases, they are the primary caregiver for children and breadwinner for the family. Women may feel child care won’t be affordable if they’re in treatment. They may have lost family support and can’t rely on loved ones.

Seeing treatment intended only for women may help female patients recognize they are not alone in their struggle to live in sobriety. They may come to realize many other women face the same challenges. Women in gender-specific treatment learn how to connect with each other and learn how to build the support systems they will need to sustain their recovery.

How does Hannah’s House treatment women in gender-specific programs?

At Hannah’s House, women can begin healing in the company of supportive peers and professionals. A program begins with a safe medical detox followed by individual and group therapies. For women whose lives have been affected by traumatic events, trauma therapy helps them safely process those memories and learn coping skills.


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 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: 866-952-5532.


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