Gendered Programing and How It Helps Our Clients

Men in recovery from addiction talk before an AA meeting.

Table of Contents

Treatment programs across the country are often separated by gender. Co-ed programs exist but tend to be rare for a reason. Jaywalker Lodge is specifically a men’s program, allowing our programming to focus solely on male mental health. Here are the reasons why gendered programming exists and why addressing the needs of a specific gender helps with treatment and recovery.

Addiction Affects Genders Differently

Men and women have very different experiences regarding substance use disorder and mental health. These experiences differ biologically and culturally. While fewer women might get help for addiction, fewer men are likely to get help for underlying mental health disorders, making recovery harder. Men traditionally take on different gender roles than women, which can impact how they access treatment and recover.

Men and women also tend to have different addictions, which can change the structure of how a treatment center approaches these addictions and how they allocate their resources. For example, men are more likely to develop an addiction to cannabis or alcohol, while women are more likely to form an addiction to prescription pain killers. Men are also more likely to need access to longer forms of treatment, such as the 90-day model, while women can go without more prolonged treatment.

Focusing on a single-gender can ensure that the needs of their clients are met. Gender-based programming works best for smaller treatment centers for this reason. Many treatment centers eventually expand to include the opposite gender in a separate program, but many start out focusing on a single-gender depending on the local need.

The Biological Differences

Addiction can affect the body differently on a biological level as well. Men are more likely to take illicit drugs than women. Men also have more hospitalizations and overdoses than women. While men and women are equally likely to develop a substance use disorder, men have a higher rate of dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol.

Gender can also affect what addiction looks like for a particular person. Depending on the drug, a person’s gender can affect how much they are addicted. It also affects how likely they are to have underlying mental illnesses, and it can determine who is most at risk of overdose or even death. For example, women are more likely to use methamphetamine and cocaine than men. However, in the case of depressants like heroin or alcohol, men are likely to use larger doses for more extended amounts of time. The biological factors affect how the addiction is treated for that particular person. Men and women require different approaches, even on the medical level.

Creating a Safer Environment

Gendered programming allows for a safer environment for clients. This safety extends to clients feeling safer to share in same-sex groups more than they would in a co-ed group. A client might be uncomfortable sharing in a co-ed group out of fear of judgment from others who might not understand their experience. This same-sex space can be crucial if a client has experienced physical or sexual abuse from the opposite sex and might not feel safe sharing that experience in a co-ed area.

Same-sex spaces can also limit sexual tension or distractions that might take away from treatment. If a client has been sexually or physically abusive in the past, keeping a client in a gendered program can also keep opposite-sex clients safe.

Allows Us to Focus On Gender-Specific Needs and Concerns

Co-ed treatment might become too broad, ignoring the gender-specific issues surrounding a person’s addiction. By focusing on treatment for a single-gender, programs can be more in-depth about the problems they tackle. This focus allows us to tap into the deeper issues that might be ignored or brushed over in co-ed treatment that could be instrumental in a successful recovery.

For example, men traditionally are slower to open up than women. They are also more likely to be reluctant to enter a treatment program because they fear appearing weak. Focusing on male-related issues allows us to tackle and dismantle these notions that might limit someone in treatment.

Having Something in Common

Men who come to Jaywalker already have something enormous in common. Male-bonding is a time-honored tradition for a reason. Together, men can relate to the issues that hurt them the most. This connection can be a stepping stone in building trust and life-long relationships. Jaywalkers can focus on what they have in common instead of what is different. This dynamic helps to focus discussions on something everyone can relate to instead of arguing about what they can’t relate to.

Gendered programming really does work best for our clients. Same-sex programs allow programs to focus their treatment on the individual’s experience. The commonality between the same sexes allows treatment to tap into male-specific addiction, masculinity, and self-esteem issues. Men who enter our program can feel safe sharing in an environment of people who might have had the same experience. This type of arena leads to stronger bonds and authentic connections. If you think that a gendered program is right for you, see what Jaywalker Lodge has to offer. Jaywalker Lodge offers many different services, from intensive outpatient to alumni aftercare. Our treatment center is located in  Carbondale, Colorado, where we are proud members of the local community. You are one call away from changing your life. For more information on our men’s only program, call us today at (866) 529-9255 to learn more. It’s not too late to live a fulfilling life.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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