Women attending rehabilitation programs for substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring conditions have distinct issues that therapists need to address during therapy. Women in coed programs benefit from gender-specific therapy sessions focusing on the issues they are statistically more likely to encounter. Facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers offer a range of gender-specific therapies to ensure men and women have access to individualized support that considers their needs and any underlying issues that could impact their recovery.
According to Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), “The high prevalence of trauma exposure among women with substance use disorders and their associated physical and mental health needs; and the central role that relationships with children, intimate partners, and others play in women’s addiction and recovery” all impact the effectiveness of treatment. Women are also at a higher risk of developing certain mental health disorders. Coed treatment programs that offer gender-focused therapy options often improve the outcomes for women in recovery.
Why Is Gender-Specific Therapy Essential to Recovery?
Women often have different motivations than men for misusing substances. Treatment must address these underlying issues and any related maladaptive thoughts and behavioral patterns to ensure lasting positive changes. In addition, recovery from substance use disorder requires active participation in the various treatment methods. Some women find it easier to participate in certain group activities and discussions with other women.
Group therapy for women does the following:
- Provides a safe space for women to feel heard and understood
- Makes it easier to introduce subjects women are more likely to be familiar with, including body image issues, low self-esteem, and trauma related to motherhood or sexual abuse
- Provides peers with an opportunity to empathize and show compassion for one another
- Encourages stronger social bonds
West Coast Recovery Centers uses trauma-informed care and gender-focused treatments to ensure women feel comfortable working through any issues that might increase the risk of relapse. Women who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse and misused substances to cope with the trauma may feel unsafe disclosing their history within coed therapy groups. Many women feel more comfortable discussing the motivation for their substance misuse with other women. The same is often true for men in recovery. Our treatment facility has gender-specific groups to ensure everyone can get the peer support they need.
Benefits of Gender-Specific Group Therapy
Group therapy and peer activities are often more effective when participants share similar life experiences. Empathy and social bonding are vital to group therapy at facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers. Most women in our programs have a history of trauma that has influenced their substance misuse. In women-only group therapy, they can support one another and provide insights into how to heal after witnessing or living through traumatic events.
Groups can use a variety of different therapeutic approaches, including:
- Skills development
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal processing
The clinical team tailors group therapy and activities like recreational therapy to address specific issues each individual needs to process. Women have unique challenges that they need to work through during rehabilitation to decrease symptoms, lower stress, and enhance the effectiveness of other treatment modalities.
Challenges Women Face During Treatment
Anyone participating in treatment must overcome a range of issues using the tools provided by the program and other resources. In some cases, men and women require different skills to cope with daily stressors during treatment and ongoing recovery. Some unique challenges many women encounter during treatment include:
- Separation from children and loved ones
- Trauma caused by past sexual or physical abuse
- Co-occurring eating disorders
- Co-occurring postpartum depression or other depressive disorders
- Different contributing factors and health risks
Women are twice as likely to experience depression symptoms and co-occurring conditions related to depression and anxiety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Consequences of substance use for women include physical complications, the risk of losing custody of children under their care, and exposure to partner violence.” Women are also more likely to relapse after pregnancy.
LGBTQIA+ and Gender-Specific Therapy
Everyone benefits from attending group sessions and activities relevant to their life experiences. West Coast Recovery Centers celebrates diversity and encourages individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ to attend whichever group makes them feel most comfortable. We believe that diversity and acceptance are essential to creating a supportive community. Clients at our facility attend coed and gender-focused group therapy to address various issues related to addiction and recovery. Clients who identify as LGBTQIA+ can direct their treatment plan to ensure it provides them with appropriate and effective therapy options.
The clinical team at West Coast Recovery Centers understands that some individuals feel more comfortable discussing sensitive subjects with people who share shared life experiences. We offer gender-specific group therapy and activities to provide additional peer support for men and women recovering from substance misuse. Group therapy for women covers topics that they may not want to discuss around men, including sexual or physical abuse, motherhood, and their motivations for misusing substances. Women participating in rehabilitation can decrease their risk of relapse and better manage symptoms by cultivating peer relationships and building bonds with other women in recovery. We are an inclusive facility and encourage LGBTQIA+ clients to attend whichever groups make them feel most validated and comfortable. To learn more about our facility and the gender-specific therapies we offer, contact us today by calling (760) 492-6509. You are not alone, and we can help you heal from SUD.