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Drug Rehab for Men

Drugs affect men and women differently on several levels. On a physiological level, males process drugs differently than females. On a psychological level, men and women confront different social challenges and have gender-specific triggers that prompt drug seeking and substance abuse. While not all drug rehabilitation facilities are separated by gender, many treatment centers do provide separate recovery resources for men and women.

If you’re looking for drug rehabilitation centers, weigh the pros and cons of gender-specific treatment for men.

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How Men and Women Match Up in Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), clinical studies from academic and medical sources reveal gender differences in the way men and women respond to drugs and enter treatment:

  • Men are more prone than women to use illicit drugs.
  • Men are more likely than women to develop physical or psychosocial problems as a result of substance abuse.
  • Health care providers are more likely to identify drug-related problems in men.
  • Men are more likely to be referred for drug rehab.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that in 2009, one in 10 males reported using illicit drugs, compared with one in 15 females. With such notable differences in the way men and women use drugs, it’s no surprise that programs have been developed to address the needs of men.

Anger, control issues and violence may be more likely to characterize drug use among males. Drug rehab programs for men may include individual counseling and group therapy programs tailored to men’s emotional, physical and sexual concerns. Anger management programs and vocational rehabilitation may also be emphasized. Without concerns about interacting socially with women, men find that it’s easier to focus on their own rehabilitation.

Why Should Drug Treatment Be Gender-Specific?

Substance abuse harms everyone whose lives it touches, including men, women, teenagers and children. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth and prescription drugs can devastate the mind and body, destroy families and ruin personal finances. Given how destructive drug abuse can be, does it really matter whether treatment targets men versus women?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), gender-specific treatment can make a difference. The NIDA points out several important reasons that sex-specific drug treatment can benefit both men and women:

  • Certain areas of the brain respond differently to drugs in men and women.
  • Men and women have different risk factors that make them prone to drug abuse.
  • Men and women have unique protective factors that can help them fight addiction.
  • Certain approaches to treatment are more effective in men versus women.
  • Women and men have different reasons for relapsing and dropping out of treatment.

Men who receive treatment at gender-specific facilities may feel that their care is more personalized. From developing long-term coping strategies to identifying the reasons for drug abuse, drug treatment designed specifically for men may be more effective than gender-neutral rehabilitation.

Admissions for Drug Treatment Among Men and Women

More men than women were admitted to drug addiction treatment facilities in 2007, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA breaks down those numbers by the primary substance being abused:

  • Heroin: 68.5 percent of admissions were male; 31.5 percent were female
  • Other opiates: 53.4 percent of admissions were male; 46.6 percent were female
  • Smoked cocaine: 57.6 percent of admissions were male; 42.4 percent were female
  • Meth: 54.3 percent of admissions were male; 45.7 percent were female
  • Marijuana: 73.6 percent of admissions were male; 26.4 percent were female
  • Tranquilizers: 49.3 percent of admissions were male; 50.7 percent were female

Jeff’s Recovery: A Case Study

Jeff’s fight with drugs and alcohol started at an early age. His parents got divorced when he was three, and the fight for custody of Jeff continued for the next 10 years. When he was 13, Jeff’s father, a heavy drinker who often punched or kicked Jeff during his alcoholic rages, suffered a fatal stroke. After Jeff’s mother went to rehab for prescription drug addiction, Jeff entered the foster care system. He ended up with a foster family that was both stable and supportive, but by his 14th birthday, Jeff was already using pot and meth.

Jeff struggled through high school. At times, he felt driven to succeed, and he’d study hard and avoid his drug connections for a few weeks. But most of the time, Jeff felt a sense of rage, emptiness and grief that wouldn’t let him go. That’s when he would turn back to pot, speed, pain meds or beer.

By the time he graduated, Jeff had learned how to balance his drug and alcohol addictions so that he could lead a normal, if shaky, life. He got a job with a construction crew and entered an apprenticeship program. Jeff’s physical energy and diligence impressed his boss, but the boss didn’t realize that a lot of Jeff’s energy came from speed, and his motivation was partially fueled by his need to pay for his habit.

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When Jeff got engaged to Wendy, a girl he’d been dating since high school, they both decided that they needed to get clean and sober. Wendy entered an outpatient treatment program to address her problems with alcohol and marijuana, while Jeff decided to try a 12-step program. But Jeff couldn’t stick with the daily meetings, and the spiritual component of the 12-step philosophy turned him off. He went back to using, this time adding cocaine to the mix.

Jeff hit bottom when he lost his job and Wendy within the same week. When Wendy, who was struggling to maintain her own sobriety, told him she wanted to break off their engagement, Jeff was overwhelmed with rage and punched her in the face. Wendy called the police, and Jeff was arrested. She also called Jeff’s boss to tell him that Jeff was addicted to drugs and was a danger to himself and his coworkers. The next day, Jeff would find out that he had fractured Wendy’s cheekbone, barely missing her eye socket.

Court-ordered drug rehab was the best thing that could have happened to Jeff, who entered a residential treatment program for men. The facility wasn’t fancy, but Jeff didn’t want to be coddled; he wanted the opportunity to focus on his recovery in a structured setting without any distractions or social pressures. Through a rigorous program of individual counseling, group therapy and anger management classes, he learned a lot about how his addiction had started, why his body responded so forcefully to drugs and alcohol and why he felt so much rage. For the first time, Jeff was forced to face the fact that his alcoholic father had been physically abusive, while his mother was too emotionally distant to do anything about it.

Jeff also faced the reality that unless he got clean and continued counseling, he was going to continue the cycle of abuse and addiction. It was too late for him to get Wendy back, but she did agree to come to the treatment facility to hear his apology. His boss accepted Jeff back on the job site on a trial basis, provided he continue his treatment and take regular drug tests. Jeff’s life was far from perfect, but for the first time in years, he felt a real sense of hope.

Risks of Drug and Alcohol Abuse for Men

There are a lot of reasons — physical, social, emotional and financial — why drug and alcohol abuse is hazardous for men. The following risks are present for men who use illicit drugs or drink heavily:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Physical injuries
  • Violence against others (including loved ones)
  • Unsafe sex with multiple partners
  • Job instability
  • Health risks such as cancer and HIV
  • Suicide

Taking the First Step

For some men, entering drug rehab is a voluntary decision. For others, the decision is made for them by a court. Regardless of how you get to treatment, the opportunity to recover is a gift. Because men and women do not respond the same way to drugs or recover in the same way, drug addiction treatment should address the needs of each gender. In gender-specific drug rehab, you may find that you get individualized treatment that reflects your emotional, physical and social needs as a man. If you need help finding a drug or alcohol rehab program that offers gender-specific treatment for men, contact us today. We can help you find a rehab that suits your personal preferences.