Understanding Gender-Specific Treatment

Sober living residents in recovery

Men Live with Men and Women Live with Women During Rehab

Many people entering a recovery program will get the full benefit of the program if they open up to a group or a therapist about the issues that they are experiencing (and have experienced). Because of this, some clients will request a gender-specific recovery program where they will be more comfortable discussing their background. There are many advantages to this type of group beyond just the comfort level in a group setting. Many clients find a program that’s filled with the same gender is easier to share with because of so many common experiences each gender faces.

What Special Needs Might Females Have In Treatment?

Many women who come to treatment programs have co-occurring disorders that they need help processing in order to maintain abstinence while experiencing a rewarding life. In fact, a large percentage of women who enter treatment programs have a history of trauma including domestic abuse or sexual abuse.2 These issues, especially when a client has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), will require a specialized treatment approach that benefits from removing the distraction of having the opposite sex in groups and activities.

Women are also more likely to seek out help when they realize their addiction is negatively affecting their lives, they may ask for help from a doctor or a mental health professional.

Some women get a lot of momentum toward getting and maintaining sobriety when they realize they are pregnant or have small children they need to attend to. Because of this, they may need special help or arrangements, such as childcare. A female-only facility will often have access to a variety of social programs that can help female patients with these needs.

What About Male-Only Treatment Options?

If you’re a male considering your treatment options, you may wonder what benefits a male-only program may have to offer you. Most treatment centers realize that men have their own special needs or issues that can be addressed by a male-only treatment setting. Some men will likely have a co-occurring disorder that needs to be addressed while in treatment, such as depression or stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure.

Men also may be entering treatment with a history of trauma or they may have trust issues with people of the opposite sex. In this case, they may be more comfortable with other men who are struggling with similar issues. The stigma, shame or isolation that a man may have experienced as a survivor of childhood abuse may be difficult or  impossible to talk about in a co-ed setting. Because of this, many men find solace in “male-only” treatment centers where a therapeutic staff of trained professionals can help you work through your issues in both group and one-on-one therapy sessions.

If you are married or have dependents, you may feel that male-only treatment is a good way to begin recovery and learn from the experiences of other men who are similar circumstances.

I’m LGBT. What Kind of Treatment Should I Choose?

For LGBT individuals, the key is for you to be able to join a treatment setting that is inclusive and can help you feel comfortable and safe. If you’re not sure if you want to go to a gender-specific treatment program1, you may want to talk to one of our addiction specialist who can help you learn more about each option and weight the benefits.

Gender-Specific Helps Keep the Focus On You

Many people choose gender-specific programs to eliminate temptation while they’re focusing on their recovery. If you are married or in a committed relationship, then a gender-specific program may help ease your loved ones fears about your stay away from home.

At a treatment program, you are taught to learn more about yourself. Relationships can complicate early recovery and take the focus off of getting well. This is why it is highly recommended, if you’re tempted by the opposite sex, to seek out a gender-specific program. In a coed setting, clients are more apt to develop a distracting crush or take action upon those types of feelings within the walls of the program. This is usually strictly against the rules and if clients are caught having inappropriate contact, they are usually sent home from the program.

Separating genders may be a practical barrier to temptation for people who are heterosexual. However, many program are very inclusive and there is no way to stop people from becoming distracted by the gender they’re attracted to. Usually clients can learn coping methods that will help them establish healthy friendships and save the romance for later in recovery.

Choosing the Program That Works for You

If you think you’ll be more comfortable in a gender-specific program than a coed program, speak up about this when you’re checking out treatment programs. If you’re not sure if it will work for you, we have professionals standing by to help you find the right program for you.

If you have questions, we have answers. Please give us a 100% confidential phone call. We’ll be happy to help you start on the path to recovery.


1.LGBT Substance Use, available here.
2.Treatment Outcomes for Women With Substance Abuse and PTSD Who Have Experienced Complex Trauma, available here.