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Gender-Specific vs Co-Ed Rehabs and Treatment

One of the first decisions patients need to deal with is whether a gender-specific or co-ed environment would be the most effective. But which one is better?

Treatment for drug addiction, co-occurring disorders, or dual-diagnosis is a complex and difficult process for both genders. Today, we can find co-ed rehabs where residents are both male and female, and gender-specific rehabs where residents are either male or female. Each type has its pros and cons, and the decision is a matter of personal choice.


Co-Ed Rehabs

There are many positive and negative factors that need to be taken into consideration when entering a co-ed rehab center. The majority of rehabs in the U.S are co-ed, meaning males and females live together side by side during recovery. The co-ed treatment program prepares patients for life after recovery and this helps patients to safely enter back into society.

What are the Benefits of Co-Ed Rehabs?

Patients at co-ed facilities learn more from group sessions by listening to the experiences of a wide variety of people. Addictions can occur due to improper interactions with the opposite sex, and a co-ed treatment program can prevent this from happening. And since negative social interactions can also trigger relapses, this can be averted by attending co-ed counseling sessions. Adolescents who are amidst developing healthy relationships, learning to navigate social settings, and preparing to transition into adulthood, might find co-ed rehabs to be quite beneficial. Patients can interact with their peers in a healthy way, adjust socially, and develop healthier connections with the opposite sex.

In addition, by attending co-ed treatment, men and women realize that they share the same feelings and challenges, and this realization gives way to profound respect and family-like ambiance. Patients heal easily and issues like low body image, low self-esteem, and low self-confidence surface faster in mixed group settings. Especially relevant to note is that since co-ed rehabs are more common, patients can find a broader range of services, including medical detox, family counseling, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and vocational training.

What are the Issues with Co-Ed Rehabs?

Some rehabs may benefit one addict and actually inhibit another. For some individuals, a co-ed living facility may be a distraction from recovery. Many patients might not be able to deal with the temptations of having the opposite sex in the same facility. This might result in not opening up and participating fully in therapy sessions.

Co-ed rehabs may lead to feelings of insecurity and pressure, or to the individual withdrawing from treatment. Some women don’t feel safe living with men, and this can distract them from their goal of recovery. In some cases, they might even be victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence. 

Co-ed programs, quite often, can provide the possibility for romantic relationships. Romantic relationships between patients are very common regardless of the efforts of the staff to prevent these relationships from developing. Romances can stagnate the learning process of how to cope with stresses, and can result in less focus on sobriety and even relapsing. Certainly, there are patients who find love and long-term sobriety in rehabs, but that’s an exception and not a norm. In the majority of cases, when a rehabber becomes romantically involved while in treatment, it can result in detachment from treatment and obtaining sobriety.

Co-ed programs are more adjusted to the needs of the male gender. Consequently, women continue to benefit from treatment approaches designed fundamentally by treating men, including Alcoholics Anonymous. Women’s role in society and their physiology varies from those of men. They need a different dynamics of treatment plans from those of the opposite sex.


Gender-Specific Rehabs

Studies show that men and women tend to develop, experience, and recover from addiction or disorders differently. Various socio-economic and biology factors can influence these addictions and co-occurring disorders. Women’s reasons for using are different than men’s. The added stress of being devoted wives, loving mothers, and successful businesswomen, can push women toward addiction. The way in which men and women enter rehabs can also differ. Basically, men forcibly go into treatment in order not to lose their job or go to jail. Women go to treatment to ask for help with another issues. Inpatient rehab programs that do not provide gender-specific treatment have low retention rates, especially for women.

Benefits for Entering a Gender-Specific Rehab

It is undoubtedly true that females have specific needs compared to males and require specialized treatment approaches. Females are less likely to be financially independent, and are capable of pregnancy. More females than males suffer from sexual and physical trauma. Female-specific rehabs have experience with women, and can provide daycare or other services associated with being a parent. If these gender-specific rehab centers hadn’t existed, then many women would’t have sought treatment. 

Furthermore, selecting a gender-specific rehab might be a good option for those who identify themselves as heterosexuals and believe that temptation from the opposite sex might upset their recovery progress. A gender-specific treatment center eliminates the possibility to start a heterosexual relationship with a co-rehabber. However, with homosexuals or bisexuals, neither a coed nor gender-specific rehab will provide defense against relations with the same sex. All individuals should first commit to the process of recovery and set aside romantic relationships for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to men, their reasons for substance abuse or suffering from co-occurring disorders are different than women’s. Men’s goals and expectations in treatment are separate from those of females.

Gender-specific treatment programs can be beneficial to men. Men who enter gender-specific rehabs feel more comfortable and are more likely to actively participate in group discussions. Men will find it easier to discuss issues like low self-esteem, sex, control, fear, feelings, and relationships with family members.

Although society sets a multitude of expectations on men, a male-specific rehab removes these expectations and patients can focus on obtaining long-term recovery. In a gender-specific environment, men will spend less time discussing gender issues and more time analyzing the pressures they face as husbands, fathers, and sons.

Drawbacks of Entering a Gender-Specific Rehab

A possible con of joining a gender-specific treatment center is that it creates an artificial group. After graduating from rehab, patients will go back into society and will have to interact with both genders. Patients in a same-sex treatment center learn communication skills in a same-gender environment. Thus, it is highly concerning whether those skills will translate into the real world.

Once patients are outside of rehab, they’ll have to establish a support network of both males and females. So possibly, it would be more psychologically convenient for patients to experience a co-ed rehab. Additionally, the majority of sober living houses and group recovery meetings that are part of aftercare services are often mixed. Graduates of same-sex rehabs attending co-ed aftercare programs might find themselves to be personally limited.


All completed researches and feedback on gender-specific rehab versus co-ed rehabs come to the conclusion that the final decision remains a matter of personal choice. If a male individual suffering from dual-diagnosis finds a male-only rehab to be more appealing than a co-ed, then that individual should pursue such a center.

Professionals agree that one of the most important factors in rehab success is the patient’s commitment to the process and their willingness to undergo personal change.

Ultimately, the benefits of gender-specific and mixed rehabs greatly depend on the type of therapy and counseling that is provided, as well as measures taken to ensure that each patient is receiving the care they need. The bottom line is that patients should find the rehab program that provides the best chance for long-term recovery.

If a patient feels they could be distracted or uncomfortable among members of the opposite sex, then that patient should seek a gender-specific rehab. However, if an individual feels they could greatly benefit from interacting with a wide range of other individuals, then co-ed rehabilitation might work perfectly fine for them.

For more information please call this Toll Free 24/7 Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a completely confidential call. If you have health insurance it may cover up to 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now!

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