For adolescents and young adults seeking treatment for substance addiction, gender-specific programs might provide a higher level of care than traditional treatment approaches. What exactly does gender-specific treatment entail? How can it impact a young person’s recovery?
Who Needs Gender-Specific Treatment for Addiction?
For a long time, medical research about substance addiction has focused on men. It was not until recent decades that health professionals discovered that women and men are affected by substances differently and therefore need different kinds of care. The initiation and social implications of their addiction also differ, as women respond differently to traumatic experiences and suffer more stigmatization after their addiction.
This is to say that, although men and women are equally as likely to develop substance addiction, each gender has distinct responses to addiction, relapse, and recovery. There are unique obstacles for each gender in completing a treatment program, and these gendered aspect needs to be considered.
For demographic groups that hold gender and sexuality as an important aspect of self-identity, gender-specific or gender-informed programs offer more tailored care. These include adolescents, young adults, and the LGBTQ+ community. One major benefit is that there are no distractions or pressures caused by the opposite gender or a dominant gendered identity.
What Does a Gender-Specific Treatment Center Look Like?
In co-ed residential treatment centers, young men and women in recovery may form romantic relationships. The lure to replace any “voids” experienced during treatment is often present. Gender-specific programs exist to try to eliminate these distractions while supporting each individual’s recovery. Group therapies and support groups are also more tailored to the needs and comfort levels of gender-specific groups.
For example, in an all-female setting, women are more likely to share personal details, like those to do with sexual abuse, trauma, relationships, pregnancy, or motherhood. They can more easily relate to peers of their own age and gender. Similar conversations in a co-ed group therapy session may not go as deep.
Another benefit of receiving care from a gender-specific treatment program is that the staff are specially trained to work with a certain gender group or from a trauma-informed perspective. They can utilize all the innovative gender-specific research and application methods in the field of addiction recovery. Using a gender-informed curriculum, treatment programs emphasize identity and development while treating addiction and mental health symptoms.
What Other Benefits Do Gender-Specific Programs Offer?
In a co-ed treatment center, distractions may arise from an imbalanced ratio of males to females, which may alienate one or the other. Gender-specific programs avoid this challenge and create a setting where participants can share common experiences and easily relate with each other. This is important because a recovering individual’s ability to openly share with the group has a significant impact on their healing.
For some people, knowing about gender-specific programs may remove some barriers to treatment. For example, women are particularly susceptible to feeling stigmatized, and overcoming that gender-specific stigma can remove a barrier to treatment. For the LGBTQ community, specialized treatment programs provide sensitive care to their needs and history of trauma.
Specialized Treatment Programs for the LGBTQ Community
Because individuals who identify with the LGBTQ community tend to suffer discrimination, emotional abuse, rejection from family, and other traumatic experiences, many turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Gender identity and sexuality are important issues to consider in their recovery. Specialized care and treatment that takes gender and sexuality into account can provide better care for them.
Recovery specialists realize that effective treatment must include therapies that help address these specific challenges LGBTQ individuals face in their life. From medically monitored detox to outpatient support, they need to feel safe, comfortable and supported by trauma-informed staff and approaches.
What Are the Benefits of Gender-Responsive and Trauma-Informed Care?
Gender-specific treatment programs that seek to provide trauma-informed care should build compassion into the entire process, including the intake and orientation process. For example, the first 72 hours can be critical for an incoming individual to feel safe and cared for. This can determine how they respond to treatment later on.
Gender-responsive and trauma-informed approaches take experiences of traumatization very seriously. For example, trauma-informed staff should not probe into personal and sensitive parts of a client’s life, which can be intrusive and re-traumatizing. Instead, this information should come naturally when the individual is ready throughout treatment. The staff needs to be sensitive to the level of comfort and security felt by the individual receiving care.
If gender or sexuality is an important factor to your recovery and mental health, you should choose a gender-specific treatment option so that, with the support of gender-responsive and trauma-informed staff, you have a higher chance of full recovery.
If gender or sexuality is an important factor in your recovery from substance addiction and mental health, a gender-specific treatment program may be something to look into. This way, you can get more support from gender-responsive and trauma-informed staff for a higher chance of full recovery. At Laguna Shores Recovery, while we aren’t a gender-specific program, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists considers all aspects of your identity and lived experiences when designing a tailored treatment plan for you. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies,12-step programs, and other holistic methods. We believe in trauma-informed care, so you can trust working with us. You can also connect with a diverse group of recovering individuals who might be going through similar challenges as you. Our staff and health professionals will always support you. They can also help connect you with a gender-specific or LGBTQ-specific program. Call us at (866) 906-3203.