When people seek rehab, they usually focus on cost and quality, with the consideration of inpatient or outpatient treatment. Gender or sex may be the last thing on someone’s mind, but it can play a role in how men and women become addicted to substances.
In December 2016, The Mighty published an essay by Al Levin explaining the benefits of an all-male support group. Levin mentioned that being in an all-male group allowed him to relate to men who were going through the same thing, and this aided his overall well-being.
Being in a rehabilitation facility that consists of all men could bring similarly positive benefits. In 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated that gender could affect how men become addicted, the substances they misuse, and the social consequences they may deal with.
Per SAMHSA, most people in substance abuse treatment are men, but there can always be small improvements that can make treatment more palatable to men. Minor changes, such as including reading material or decor that appeals to men, can help. Other considerations include:
Men who are older than age 40 are more likely to stick with treatment.
Data shows that more research is needed to figure out particular risk factors for gender or sex. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that women and men differ in how drug misuse shows up for them.
An April 2014 report from SAMHSA, known as The TEDS Report, shows the following issues in men:
Along with tailoring programs for men who exhibit certain traits, gender-specific treatment may be beneficial in other ways. In The Mighty, Al Levin writes that attending a men’s only group for depression allowed him to access his emotions despite not knowing other men in the group.
SAMHSA also reports there are subtle differences in how men and women are treated during detox.
Men also tend to have other motivations for enrolling in a detox program, such as:
The Mayo Clinic mentions that support groups, often a core part of treatment, offer the following benefits:
Levin mentioned that it was easier for him to open up about his feelings because most members in his group were in a similar age group and going through the same things. Levin said that members would discuss their issues while others would offer suggestions about things that best worked for them.
As mentioned by SAMHSA, men show their needs differently from women. There are some men for whom coed treatment facilities might be better, especially if they exhibit traits like:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) cautions that success depends on a variety of factors. Addiction is considered a chronic condition that is managed but not cured. Regardless of gender, relapse is likely to happen.
Relapse usually means that treatment must be modified. Treatment can be affected by the length of time a person has been dealing with their substance use disorder and by the relationship between the client and the staff at the treatment facility.
Ready to get Help?
Talk to a treatment expert
Ultimately, the decision between male-only treatment and a coed treatment program will come down to the individual. Some men may benefit from a men-only program whereas others will thrive in a coed environment. Talk to your therapist or an intake advisor at a rehab facility about what might be best for you.
(2013) Addressing the Specific Behavioral Health Needs of Men: Chapter 3, Treatment Issues in Men. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK144290/
(2013) Addressing the Specific Behavioral Health Needs of Men: Chapter 5, Treatment Modalities and Settings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK144286/
(January 2018) Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): How effective is drug addiction treatment? National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment
(April 2014) The TEDS Report. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/sr077-gender-differences-2014.pdf
(September 2016) Treatment Program Dropouts. Verywell Mind. from https://www.verywellmind.com/treatment-program-dropouts-67860
(December 2016) What I Found When I Walked Into a Men’s Support Group. The Mighty. from https://themighty.com/2016/12/depression-and-anxiety-support-groups-for-men/
(June 2018) Support groups: Make connections, get help. Mayo Clinic. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/support-groups/art-20044655