Addiction recovery treatment exists in many forms, from rehab clinics and treatment centers to sober living homes and 12-step communities. Some clinics offer outpatient programs while others specialize in residential treatment, offering both a path to sobriety and a temporary home for addicts who need another chance at life.
But in all its forms, addiction recovery faces the question: treat addicts together, or separately? While most centers and clinics specialize in both group therapy and individual treatment, the question pertains specifically to gender – some clinics do co-ed programs, while others specially tailor their offerings to men or women.
There’s good reason for that, as much research as gone to show. While we strive for a better, more equal world, where women can explore the same opportunities afforded to men and men don’t have to shoulder the entirety of the burden usually reserved for the male sex, it’s also a fundamental truth that men and women are different, and experience addiction very differently. Addiction both occurs differently for men than it does for women, and the effects of treatment are observably different in women than they are in men.
By embracing these facts and learning more through them, single-sex treatment facilities aim to provide a better experience to thousands of addicts across the country seeking help for their affliction.
To understand how a men’s sober living community can contribute to a man’s recovery, it’s important to understand the differences between men and women in all things addictive.
Men and Women Struggle Differently
Men are more likely to use drugs. Women are more likely to get addicted to their drug use. Men are twice as likely to be addicts due to higher rates of use and availability, but drugs affect women more strongly, and they’re at greater risk for relapse following abstinence. While men are likely to consume, women have a harder time with quitting.
Research into the effects of opioids, alcohol, and nicotine in men and women revealed differences possibly linked to sex hormones and physical differences between men and women, further giving insight into the necessary differences between treating addicted men and addicted women.
Some of the concrete differences between men and women in recovery and risk of relapse include the facts that women are more likely to suffer overdose deaths and physical side effects, while men experience more intense withdrawal symptoms. Men on average have longer periods of abstinence before a relapse, while women report more intense cravings.
Sociological differences exist as well, supporting the argument for gender-specific rehab as many examples of drug use among women stem from problems created by men, ranging from domestic abuse and violence to an addicted partner, and more.
The Downsides of Co-Ed Rehab
While coed rehab can treat all human equally, addiction treatment requires a more individualized approach. Women are more likely to self-medicate for pain and anxiety, conditions they experience more often than men. Their reasons for taking drugs often overlap with other women, but not with men. Meanwhile, men face certain challenges that women do not, including higher death rates.
Female-only camaraderie and male-only camaraderie exists and can be harnessed positively to help countless recovering addicts overcome their past shortcomings and look forward optimistically to a brighter future.
Furthermore, co-ed rehab presents the possibility of romance between members of the opposite sex, a temptation that can easily derail an otherwise successful journey towards long-term sobriety, as new relationships formed during such volatile periods of self-discovery and healing often end dramatically and painfully, and quite suddenly.
Co-ed rehab better prepares individuals for interactions with both sexes out in the normal world. But men’s sober living can better help men who feel uncomfortable seeking treatment alongside women, either because they fear that they might grow attached to someone, or because they feel that a more gender-specific approach might help them better address their concerns in recovery, in ways that would not be possible in a co-ed environment.
Life Isn’t Gender-Specific
Same sex sober living homes aren’t designed to replicate all the challenges and temptations of life. However, gender-specific sober living still aims specifically to arm individuals with the tools and skills necessary to nurture and maintain sobriety outside of the context of recovery.
What sets sober living homes apart from other forms of addiction treatment is an attempt to ease addicts into tackling normal everyday responsibilities, from staying clean to maintaining employment, upholding social obligations, seeking out healthier ways to cope with stress and have fun, as well as learn how to deal with life’s curve balls without turning to drugs.
But life outside of sober living homes is still very different from life within the walls of sober living. Despite all the preparation, nothing truly prepares someone for the temptation of being out and about again, completely free to meet up with old friends and start using again.
It’s at that point that a recovering addict must muster all of their willpower and recall every lesson they have ever learned on the subject of recovery to stay clean. The same goes for the opposite sex. Most experts suggest staying away from new romantic relationships for at least a year of recovery, in order to cement one’s newfound sobriety before endangering it through potential heartbreak and rejection.
That doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to fail – if a recovering addict finds themselves spiraling out of control, the best course of action to take is to go straight back to recovery, starting not at square one, but at an entirely new junction in their long-term journey against addiction.
Men’s Sober Living and Homosexuality
One point made earlier in this article specifically talks about the difficulties of potentially entertaining a romantic bond in mixed sex treatment, and the tension that comes with being treated alongside the opposite sex.
However, men’s sober living has also become a haven for many homosexual addicts looking for a safe place to recover and seek treatment when LGBT-specific options were unavailable. While attracted to the same sex, the other benefits of a male-only treatment center still apply to homosexual men.
Being homosexual, transsexual, or otherwise non-heterosexual puts one at far greater risk of experiencing discrimination, stigma, ostracization, and other factors that heavily contribute and often lead to the development of an addiction to drugs. Society has slowly come to accept homosexuality, but not fully. Like many other minorities, gay men are still made to feel abnormal in many circumstances. This is only amplified when one is addicted, as all negative experiences are.
Men’s sober living provides a safe place for men from all backgrounds and sexualities to seek treatment for their addiction, and tackle sobriety at their own pace. In time, every individual seeking treatment will find their own path towards long-lasting recovery, regardless of the obstacles and pitfalls along the way. Sober living homes are dedicated towards providing the right environment to make that dream a reality.