Trusted Content

Why Do Rehab Centers Separate Men And Women?

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

January 23, 2019

Many rehabilitation facilities offer separate programs for men and women because of how each gender reacts to and handles addiction. By having gender-specific treatment programs, men and women can focus on their recovery in a safe and distraction-free environment that is tailored to their needs.

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus…or maybe vice versa. For years, we’ve known, regardless of the metaphor, that the males and females are different in many ways.

Originally, treatment facilities were developed for men, by men. Nowadays, however, the rehabilitation field is undergoing changes. We know much more now about the different genders than we ever have before. Men and women can enter treatment for different reasons, have dissimilar experiences when in recovery, and have different rates of success.

Difference Between Men And Women

Why is this? Well, one theory points to biology. Findings in the Journal of Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, seem to suggest that female animals are more aware of the rewarding aspect of drugs, and that estrogen might be the cause of this. Women are also more likely to have had dysfunctional families, have often been subjected to inadequate parenting models, and are more likely to be carrying stress due to relationships with their kids. Many still rely on their spouse or partner for their basic needs, as well.

“Superwomen Syndrome” is also a problem for female addicts. They may have issues with mental health or with shame and feel that they should be able to handle everything that comes their way. This often prevents them from asking for help with substance abuse.

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Men, by contrast, are more prone than women to use illicit drugs. They are also likely to develop physical or psychosocial problems as a result of their addiction. However, health care providers are more likely to identify drug-related problems in men and refer them to treatment as a result. Men tend to show anger, control issues and violence when addicted more than women. Men also struggle less with eating disorders and issues regarding body image.

The Potential Benefits

Men and women come from different places emotionally, physically, and psychologically, but that doesn’t mean one gender receives better care in treatment than the other. In fact, it’s often the case that both genders do better when separated. Dividing the men and women leads to more individual, specialized care. When the opposite sex isn’t present, things can be more relaxed. Women who have had trouble with abusive men in their lives may do better in groups of only women. Often, people coming out of addictions jump into other things, such as relationships, to fill a void. Gender-specific treatment often avoids this issue.

This is not to say that mixed facilities are not good options. Addiction is a very personal disease, and no single recovery plan works for all people. In fact, more options are becoming available all the time.

Those who do not identify as either gender can have difficulties fitting into mixed, male, or female systems, yet frequently struggle with addiction. Sometimes centers have facilities available, such as non-gender-specific bathrooms, which help make everyone feel more comfortable. Centers that deal specifically with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community (LGBT) can be found as well, and though they are not as prevalent, efforts are being made to help this part of the community get the help they need.

No Matter Who You Are, We Can Help

No matter your gender, if you struggle with any type of addiction, we at can help. Our staff will guide you toward a treatment plan that gives you the greatest possibility for success and helps you get your life back.

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