• 4 Reasons to Opt for Gender-Specific Rehab
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    4 Reasons to Opt for Gender-Specific Rehab

    For a number of reasons, gender-specific rehabilitation programs dot the recovery community landscape. Depending on your situation, or the situation and needs of someone you know battling alcohol or substance abuse, gender specific rehabs may make sense. In short, there are many options for patients to seek alcohol and drug treatment, but fortunately to date, the recovery community has responded by creating environments that anticipate those issues underlying many patients’ substance abuse problems. Take a second to consider some of the potential benefits of gender-specific rehabilitation programs to determine for you whether this approach may help.

    1. Youth Populations are frequently segregated by gender in treatment environments

    Perhaps due to the understood difficulties in managing the romantic overtures of young peoples, gender segregation occurs in practice in most rehabilitation facilities, especially those catering to youth and young adult populations. To be frank, addiction issues stem in part from missing social security in one’s life, whether for adults or youth populations, and as such, it is almost instinctual to fill voids left by ending substance abuse with romantic relationships. After all, the neurochemical experience of love is highly addictive by itself. In this sense, as many former young people can recall, the possibility of romantic attraction can prove a bit distracting, and given the seriousness of the issues facing these patients, most rehabilitation programs go far out of their way to facilitate patients focusing on themselves, not someone else.

    2. Recovery Requires Building Emotional and Mental Stability

    A large part of rehab programs is to provide patients a temporary period to regain emotional and mental stability, which when coupled with educational programming on the nature of addiction and therapeutic help at the individual level, will leave the patient prepared to re-enter the rigors of the real world with a solid sober foundation. In this sense, anything that possibly could jeopardize this growth of mental and emotional stability is unhelpful. Additionally, for many patients, the experience of romantic turmoil is already a known trigger for relapse anyways. Finally, in practice, recovery programs universally discourage relationships for the first year after rehab treatment for these and similar reasons. Take the time to focus on your own recovery, not establishing a relationship with someone else by starting in that context with a gender-specific rehab program.

    3. Active Addition Issues for Men and Women Widely Vary

    While there is significant similarity between both genders, the lived and observable experience of male and female active addition experiences widely vary. In part, this is due to a number of factors including gender-based expectations within society, social stigmas more strongly associated with one gender over another, and basic biological differences between the sexes in terms of the physiological experience of addition and withdrawal.

    4. Generally, Men and Women Recover Differently

    In short, men and women process the world differently. Gender-specific treatment programs use known information about gender differences in an learning styles, social bonding, emotional support needs, and how to promote open communication more easily in order to ensure a firmer recovery foundation by way of starting with different approaches for different genders. The same is understood for post-rehab approaches to recovery, which in many cases are dependent upon establishing firm social support systems within the recovery community, which itself encourages sponsorship relationships between persons of the same gender for heterosexual individuals, and of the opposite gender for homosexuals. In practice, any sponsor-sponsee relationship is better than nothing, but in terms of making these first contacts, the ways men and women go about doing so, discerning who to trust, and who to reach out to for help, is noticeably different between genders. A gender-specific rehab program will help patients prepare for these problems in ways that traditional mixed programs may not be able to do.

    With all this being said, a number of patients are having gender identity issues or express non-heterosexual preferences. The benefits of a gender-specific rehab become slightly less relevant in these cases, and may actually worsen the recovery process for these individuals. Don’t’ worry: there are programs all over the country that cater to patients with co-existing gender identity and sexual identity issues alongside substance abuse issues.


    Liemann Valdimar is a writer residing in Florida with over nine years of recovery. He has experienced the heavy hand of both alcohol and substance abuse and is grateful to be where he is today. As a sponsor in AA, he retains his anonymity by writing under a pen name.


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