Gender-specific treatment addresses the different experiences that men and women have with respect to gender and addiction. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction has found that women who use marijuana, cocaine, or heroin move from initial use to dependence on these drugs more quickly than men. In teenagers, studies show less variation across gender lines, especially for younger teens. However, gender-specific treatment for substance abuse is beneficial for other reasons as well.
The goal of a gender-specific approach to teen treatment is to foster a therapeutic environment in which both girls and boys feel safe and empowered. Therefore, they can develop coping skills while also building a more stable sense of personal identity. Moreover, gender-specific treatment for teens helps minimize distraction and competition.
For example, boys are often more willing to be vulnerable and open in a gender-specific environment. Additionally, teen girls often feel the freedom to spend less energy on their appearance, so they can focus on healing instead.
Furthermore, the rationale for gender-specific treatment is bolstered by research showing that more than 70 percent of female drug users experienced sexual abuse as teenagers. Therefore, a gender-specific environment helps them feel safe enough to make authentic connections.
Sources: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Gender Research in US National Library of Medicine (NIH), Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (NIAAA)