Women-only Treatment vs. Regular Treatment - PAX Riverbend

Do Treatment Centers for Women Differ from Other Treatment Centers?

girl headed to a women's addiction treatment center

Why do women need separate treatment centers? Research into the effects of addiction has found that substance abuse affects women differently than the way it affects male addicts. While men may be able to abuse substances without developing an addiction right away, women tend to become addicted faster and more frequently. This is partly because women tend to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate more often than male substance abusers.

Even when they don’t have a specific mental disorder, women are more likely to use drugs or alcohol to help them cope with stress in daily life. Studies have often found that women are more likely to overdose than men, and women are far more likely to die as a result of an overdose. These factors are just a few of the aspects of addiction that separate women from men. Since the addiction experience is different for women, it stands to reason that treating women for addiction also requires a modified approach.

Why Are Women’s Treatment Centers Different?

There are many reasons female addicts choose to attend a women’s only treatment center. While romantic relationships are discouraged in any rehab facility, the mere presence of men can be a distraction from treatment. Since many women have turned to substance abuse as a means of coping with experiences with domestic violence, being housed alongside men can be especially unnerving. Formerly abused women may feel unwilling to open up and benefit from treatment when sharing a facility with men they don’t know. A major part of addiction treatment is peer group therapy sessions.

This involves meeting as a group with the other recovering addicts in the facility to discuss experiences with cravings, triggers and overcoming the urge to relapse. Women often find it difficult to open up about these issues in the company of men. However, when the peer group consists only of other women, the participants feel more willing to open up and discuss the things that concern them. This increases the likelihood that the women in the group will be able to build up a positive support structure. They can create a judgment-free environment, where they can discuss their innermost feelings.

Catering to Women’s Needs

Women’s treatment centers are different in the approach they take to recovery. For both men and women, a vital aspect of recovery is learning healthier ways to cope with cravings and triggers. Women benefit more from various types of physical therapy in this regard. For that reason, women’s treatment centers are more likely to offer services such as massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and similar activities. Facilities that focus on treating women try to incorporate therapies and services that will appeal to women’s interests and, as a result, improve the chances of a sustained recovery.

There are other issues that concern women in treatment that must also be addressed. For instance, there is still a large portion of women who are stay-at-home parents, which means they may not have the financial resources to pay for treatment. This means more women may be in need of financial assistance to pay for treatment. Many women’s treatment centers also provide access to daycare and other childcare services that their recovering addicts may need. Providing these ancillary services help women to concentrate more fully on their recovery.

Women Often Need Treatment for Co-Occurring Conditions

As previously mentioned, women are more likely to suffer from an underlying mental illness, which may have prompted them to start self-medicating. For instance, female addicts are far more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Instead of seeking treatment and obtaining the proper medication, many women use alcohol or illegal drugs to treat the symptoms of depression. This starts a cycle of substance abuse that ultimately leads to addiction. Additionally, women may use drugs and alcohol to help them cope with domestic abuse. In these cases, they will need therapy to recover from the abuse they suffered, as well.

Women are also more likely to suffer from eating disorders. They may have used drugs or alcohol to help them control their appetites, which might have opened them up to addiction. In any of these situations, it becomes necessary to treat the underlying mental or emotional problem through therapy and counseling. Without properly treating the co-occurring condition, women become far more likely to relapse upon leaving the treatment facility. If you would like to learn more about addiction treatment for women, contact us at 866-300-6707. Our counselors are standing by 24 hours a day to answer your questions. Together, we can help you choose the addiction treatment program that’s best for your situation.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.