Although addiction affects all sexes, men and women both experience it, and recover from it, differently. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, men and women have different needs in recovery. Gender-specific recovery ensures these unique needs are met.

What is Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery?

Gender-specific recovery programs are men-only and women-only groups. These groups may include programs geared toward the LGBTQ community. Gender-specific recovery can encompass different aspects of a recovery plan, from gender-specific treatment programs and sober living facilities to gender-specific support groups and group therapy.

In some cases, choosing a gender-specific recovery program is a matter of preference. In other cases, a gender-specific program is central to successful recovery. In the case of sober living situations, gender-specific facilities are generally more effective than co-ed homes.

When Gender-Specific Recovery is Essential for Women

Women who feel powerless, lack assertiveness or have low self-esteem often feel like they must compete against more dominant men in co-ed recovery settings. These women are likely to do better in gender-specific recovery programs. Women who have more issues with anxiety, depression and eating disorders than men also thrive in a women-only environment where others tend to have similar experiences. Additionally, according to an article published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America, a majority of women in treatment for a substance use disorder have been sexually abused. Women with a history of sexual abuse almost always recover better in the exclusive company of other women.

When Gender-Specific Recovery is Essential for Men

Men in recovery often have difficulties expressing their emotions and sharing difficult experiences, having women present in a co-ed program can heighten the reluctance to open up about past experiences, especially if they’ve been sexually or physically abused. Additionally, men with substance use disorders can also have more issues with anger and power than women, resulting in more successful results in a gender-specific recovery program where other men can relate. Men who have a history of physically, emotionally or sexually abusing women should always choose a gender-specific recovery program.

Gender-specific recovery promotes healthy relationships with other people in a neutral environment, making it easier to express difficult emotions and experiences that underlie an addiction. If it’s possible, choosing a gender-specific program can help boost your recovery efforts for long-term success.