Gender Differences in Drug Abuse: Why Gender-Specific?

by baladmin | November 6, 2014

Growing Awareness of Gender Differences in Substance Abuse and Treatment

According to recent studies, awareness of gender differences in drug abuse has been growing over the past 15 years. The research shows that men and women with substance abuse disorders are not the same, therefore gender-specific programming is ideal in drug and alcohol treatment.

The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse is higher in men than in women. However, women with alcohol and substance abuse disorders have different co-occurring disorders, methods and reasons for seeking treatment, psychological influences, and social influences when compared to men.

Circumstances Involving Substance Abuse Differ for Men and Women

Some of the differences between men and women who are dealing with substance abuse and addiction include:

  • Women are more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and borderline personality disorder.
  • Men are more likely to meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder or conduct disorders.
  • Women with major depressive episodes are 7 times more likely than women without major depressive episodes to have alcohol dependence, while men with major depressive episodes are not at any increased risk.
  • Relationships between trauma and substance abuse disorders are especially important for women – as sexual abuse is associated with a higher risk of substance abuse disorders.
  • Women with alcohol dependence are more likely to have family members or spouses with alcohol dependence.
  • Women experience more social disapproval and stigma regarding substance abuse.
  • Substance use for men typically leads to consequences involving jobs and career paths, while women typically experience consequences related to family life.
  • Women are more likely to report stressful life events and interpersonal issues as reasons for substance abuse.
  • Men are more likely to report external temptations as reasons for substance abuse.

Why is it Important to Have Separate Programs for Men and Women?

Individuals with a mental illness, dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, trauma, substance abuse, and associated shame enter treatment in a defensive position. These individuals often have their “walls up” and are extremely guarded. In gender-specific programs, people tend to be less defensive.

Issues with maturity levels, sensitivity, and impulsiveness are often heightened in co-ed facilities. Women-only treatment and men-only treatment allows for bonding and mutual support, without the added distraction found in co-ed facilities. Due to the gender differences in circumstances regarding substance abuse, involving interpersonal, social, and psychiatric influences, separation of sexes allows for openness and safety within the group during treatment.

Balboa Horizons Offers Gender-Specific Residential and Outpatient Treatment

Balboa Horizons’ men’s and women’s addiction treatment programs are specialized according to each gender’s different needs. Each  treatment plan is individualized to address trauma, relationships, mental and physical health, and dual diagnosis treatment.

To learn more about our treatment Programs for men and women, call Balboa Horizons at 1-866-316-4012.