Addiction is a highly personal disease, and treatment for each person should be specialized to suit individual needs to enhance long-term recovery. Programs may cater specifically to certain ages, sexual orientation, or gender, among other things. Treatment programs that are designed to accommodate men only will have different features and focus on issues and concerns that apply mainly to males.
Men tend to have higher rates of illicit drug use, abuse, and dependence on drugs than women, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports, and men and women experience addiction differently. Not only do men have a different biological makeup than women, they may also use drugs differently than women. For instance, men generally have more opportunities to use drugs than women do, and men often wait longer to seek treatment for issues surrounding problematic drug use, the journal Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology publishes.
Men are also typically expected to act a certain way. They are often not particularly encouraged to share feelings and experiences in mixed-gender situations. A male-only treatment program can alleviate gender pressures and allow men to interact with other men who can relate to what they are going through, giving them a forum that is free of judgment and biases related to their gender. Many treatment facilities offer programs that are gender-specific and cater to either women only or men only. Programs may include male-only residential treatment options, outpatient services, and support groups.
Types of Male-Only Treatment Programs
About one in 12 adults in the United States suffered from addiction in 2014, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and NIDA reports that there are over 14,500 different drug abuse treatment facilities offering a range of programs and options to choose from. Generally speaking, the first step in a drug addiction treatment program is an evaluation and detailed assessment performed by highly trained professionals who can work directly with families and individuals to design a treatment plan for recovery.
What works for a woman during an addiction treatment program may not work as well for a man and vice versa, meaning that oftentimes gender-specific treatment programs are ideal. Treatment programs may begin with a detox program to help the body process out drugs and alcohol before therapy begins. Medications may also be useful during addiction treatment, both to manage withdrawal symptoms and also to control cravings and treat any co-occurring mental health or medical issues that are present.
Individual therapy sessions as well as family sessions are typically part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Relapse prevention tools and aftercare services are vital components of addiction treatment as well, regardless of gender.
Benefits of a Male-Only Addiction Treatment
Men and women are different. They vary in biology, genetics, how they approach and handle situations, and management of emotions. Men are often expected by society to be strong, not show weakness, and keep feelings buried deep. Men can be inherently competitive, and they are twice as likely to engage in binge drinking than women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. They may also be less likely to admit that a problem exists and therefore more resistant to seek or enter into addiction treatment.
A male-only treatment program can dispel some of the gender biases assumed by society by helping men to heal and recover without so much pressure to keep issues hidden. Men may be more likely to open up with their own personal stories in group sessions that are devoid of the opposite sex. Other men can also provide support and empathy in a way that women may not be able to, as they may be unable to relate to some of the things that plague men specifically.
Substance abuse and violence often go hand in hand, as a study published by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (NY OPDV) showed that over 90 percent of men who abused their female partners also misused drugs and/or alcohol that same day. In this vein, anger management techniques and tools can be specifically helpful for men prone to aggression and violent outbursts. Sessions that cater specifically to men can help individuals to recognize potential triggers and how to better manage them in a manner that is relatable.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports on studies that indicate men typically have higher rates of relapse than women do and may do so in different circumstances. Male-only treatment programs can focus on specific factors that apply directly to men and how to avoid them in order to minimize relapse.
Every treatment plan is different, even within a program that is female- or male-only, and continuous evaluations and assessments are generally done throughout treatment to ensure that there is forward progression. Male-only treatment options can provide an environment that is conducive to healing and free from the distractions that the opposite sex may induce. As a result, men in a male-only treatment program may be better able to focus on their own personal recovery than they could in a mixed-gender program.
Overall, the treatment program chosen should best suit the needs of the individual. In some cases, this may involve a male-only treatment program.