As the demand for efficient community-based group support for addiction rises, Clearbrook Treatment Centers are constantly evaluating and adjusting our services to ensure that clients receive the care they need to get sober. Among our various unique programs and therapies is our gender-specific group therapy. 

Men and women experience many things in life differently, including addiction. By offering gender-specific groups for addiction, we ensure that clients have a safe space where they can speak openly in front of others who understand their struggles.  

Gender Differences in Addiction and Recovery 

For decades, addiction research only examined the effects of drugs and alcohol in men. Men were the only participants of years of studies, while the idea of substance abuse among women was not even on the table.  

It wasn’t until the 1990s that United States organizations instituted requirements to include women as study participants in addiction research. Since this inclusion, addiction treatment has been adapted to better suit both men and women.  

We’ve also determined some major differences in addiction among genders due to this inclusion. For instance, men are more likely to abuse illicit drugs and alcohol. A 2013 survey found that men battle substance use disorder at rates about double those of women, 10.8% versus 5.8%, respectively.1  

Even so, women are more susceptible to cravings, relapse, emergency room visits, and fatal overdose due to substance abuse.2,3 The gender differences in addiction stem from biological and sociological differences, such as childcare responsibilities, addiction stigma, relationship dynamics, and more.  

There are also biological differences between men and women that can impact addiction, such as hormone production. Testosterone and estrogen production, as well as average body size and composition, can cause substance abuse to impact a man’s body differently from a woman’s body.  

In addition to common risk factors such as a family history of addiction and underlying mental illness, various gender-specific factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing a drug use disorder. Considering the many differences in addiction among men and women, our gender-specific group therapy offers clients the individualized support they need to overcome their unique struggles and achieve long-term sobriety.  

Men’s and Women’s Recovery Groups  

Gender differences in addiction are centered around susceptibility, recovery, and relapse risk. In terms of susceptibility, while men are more likely to become addicts and abuse substances as a result of peer pressure, women are more likely to transition from physical dependence to addiction at a quicker rate and to self-medicate with illegal drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine.  

When looking at addiction recovery, men are more likely to stabilize their drug use at lower doses than women and are more likely to experience intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, women are more likely to suffer from severe drug side effects (such as liver damage) and overdose.  

Additionally, the risk of relapse is lower among men, meaning they experience longer periods of abstinence than women. Women are more likely to experience intense drug cravings and relapse more frequently.  

Aside from these varying differences in recovery, differences in social and biological factors can make it difficult for men to open up in front of women about certain struggles and vice versa. This level of discomfort can lead to a lack of transparency and communication in therapy that may be crucial to the person’s overall growth as they adjust to sobriety.  

Some ways that our gender-specific group therapy can benefit men and women in recovery include:  

  • Specific gender-unique therapy for physiological, emotional, and relational matters. 
  • Elevated support as gender-specific treatment supports a sense of trust and bonding among fellow same-sex patients. 
  • Lessened sexual pressure and disturbances between male and female clients. 
  • Supportive gender group topics that encourage open discussion about social and cultural tensions that can result in substance abuse. 

Because men’s and women’s issues in substance abuse recovery may differ, it’s important to offer clients treatment that caters to their specific needs. To accomplish this, our Massachusetts and Pennsylvania rehabs offer gender-specific group therapy for substance abuse where clients have the freedom to speak openly with counselors among others of their gender who understand what they’re going through.  

LGBTQ Addiction Treatment  

Members of the LGBTQ community often face social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges not experienced by individuals who identify as heterosexual. Members of the gay community also face a greater risk of harassment and violence. As a result of these and other stressors, sexual minorities are at an increased risk of mental illness and substance use disorders.4  

Our Northeast addictions treatment centers offer LGBTQ addiction treatment to help individuals of this community not only get sober from drugs and alcohol but also heal psychologically and emotionally from substance abuse and any other struggles they’ve faced. Our gay-friendly rehab programs offer services like:  

Addiction Treatment for Men and Women 

In addition to our gender-specific group therapy, our Clearbrook rehab locations also offer medically assisted detox, substance-specific addiction treatment, family counseling, and more to aid in the recovery process. 

For more information about our addiction services, contact Clearbrook today. 



  1. SAMHSA – Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings 
  1. NIH – Comparing levels of cocaine cue reactivity in male and female outpatients 
  1. NIH – Alcohol cue reactivity and mood induction in male and female alcoholics 
  1. NIH – Group Process in the single-gender Women’s Recovery Group compared with mixed-gender Group Drug Counseling 


Related Reading:  

Life Skills for Addiction Recovery 

Benefits of Residential Substance Abuse Treatment