We all know that there are many differences between men and women. But you may be surprised to learn that these differences can even influence addiction in men and women, including why they become addicted, how they behave, and how they need to be treated.
While everyone is an individual and we don’t all behave along gender lines, it is helpful to understand in what ways gender (as a result of cultural or social conditioning, upbringing, or other factors) can impact addiction treatment. Here’s what you need to know:
We see the differences in addiction between men and women right away in the types of things they abuse and the causes of their addiction. Men are more likely to abuse alcohol, heroin, and marijuana, while women are more likely to abuse alcohol and prescription pills.
Trends emerge in the mitigating factors that lead to addiction in both men and women also. Research has shown that men often become addicted after turning to drugs or alcohol to deal with emotions they have been taught to repress – since “being a man” means not talking about your emotions and never crying. Men are also more likely to engage in dangerous and illicit behavior, including drug use, to prove their “manliness.”
Women, on the other hand, often turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with trauma or dealing with mental health issues. They can also turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with social pressures to be “perfect” in how they keep their homes and raise their family, and they are susceptible to addiction if they have abusive partners. Since women are often smaller and weigh less than men, they are also more susceptible physically to addiction since they are influenced by smaller amounts of substances.
Biological differences in gender and social differences in the way that men and women are treated can also create barriers to addiction treatment.
Many men are hesitant to admit that they have a problem or a “failing,” and so they are not as likely to admit mental health problems, feeling overwhelmed, or suffering emotionally. Therefore, they are more likely to seek addiction treatment only when ordered to do so by the court, an employer, or a family member (who has power over the person). Men are also more likely to delay treatment because of work obligations and their need to succeed and to provide.
Women are also likely to delay treatment because of fears – but their fears are of being seen as a bad wife or mother. They are also likely to postpone treatment because of family obligations, rather than work obligations. When they do seek treatment, it is usually because there has been some type of health complication or they have overdosed. They are less likely than men to be referred to addiction therapy by a doctor.
Because men and women often abuse drugs or alcohol differently and have different motivations for doing so, they will require different addiction treatment to resolve their issues and to stay on the road to recovery.
Men are likely to feel more comfortable in addiction therapy settings that include only other men. That will reduce their feeling of vulnerability and help them see that other men are willing to discuss their problems and their emotions, as well. These men will be able to relate to one another better when considering the causes and the impact of their addiction.
Men can also benefit from anger management and art therapy to learn how to process their emotions better, as well as adventure based counseling to take advantage of their natural urge to do things and to be physically assertive. Adventure based counseling also teaches them skills involving communication and teamwork, which can help them slowly become more vulnerable and to better process their emotions.
Women also tend to do better in addiction therapy settings that feature only other women who can share in their struggles and discuss the issues from the same vantage point.
Women also benefit from EMDR, or eye movement desensitization reprocessing, which helps them to better understand and process trauma that might be fueling their mental health issues or their addiction (or both). Light forms of exercise like yoga can help women deal with stress and anxiety around situations that could be fueling their addiction, and personal empowerment coaching can help them overcome low self-esteem and shame that could be feeding their addiction.
Every person is unique, and every person needs to find the addiction treatment plan that is going to work for their own needs. However, it is useful to know how gender can influence these issues so that you can find an addiction clinic that is sensitive to these needs and has therapies that are designed around them.
At Corebella Health and Wellness Clinic in Arizona, you can get the treatment you need to break your addiction and to build a healthy and fulfilling life. We offer individual and group addiction therapy, medical treatments administered by a suboxone doctor and more, therapeutic activities like meditation and yoga, and much more. Contact us today to learn about our services in Glendale and Tempe.
Corebella Health & Wellness
2600 E Southern Ave
Suite E-1 Tempe, Arizona 85282
Office: (480) 409-0322
5700 W Olive Ave,
Suite 107 Glendale, AZ 85302
Office: (602) 492-9595