What Does Gender-Specific Care Look Like in Orange County?

Group of young men sitting together near a cliff high in the mountians.

What Does Gender-Specific Care Look Like in Orange County?

Working through primary care pathways can sometimes feel like you’re being lumped together with all the other types of patients. It can be difficult to feel like your unique identity and circumstances are recognized and considered. Yet, especially in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), your identity, including your gender, may significantly impact how and why you experience addiction. If you feel frustrated by generalized approaches, receiving gender-specific care could give you the focused and specialized treatment you’re looking for.

What Is Gender-Specific Care?

Gender-specific care is an informed approach to mental and physical healthcare that takes differences in gender into account. Treatment needs can vary drastically between women, men, transgender people, and intersex people. Inequalities also exist in the quality of care received by these different groups in primary care pathways. It can be hard for single programs or facilities to cater to all the different needs. The gender-specific approach seeks to remedy that by creating specialized spaces for each group.

Organizations that implement gender-specific care are aware of the interrelationship between gender identity and personal history, socioeconomic standing, mental health conditions, and SUD. Therefore, they aim to create an empathic and safe space for the expression of those intersectional issues. A founding principle of the gender-specific approach is that people of all genders deserve effective and specialized care that acknowledges their identity.

In practice, this approach can take many forms. For example, it often involves rigorous staff training to increase knowledge and understanding of how to practice gender-specific care best. It may consider a variety of identity intersections, such as cultural norms and how they interact with gender and sexual identities. Consideration of gender-specific issues should be an ongoing conversation that impacts every aspect of service design.

The Benefits of Gender-Specific Care

When implemented correctly, gender-specific care in addiction treatment can benefit people of all identities. Some reasons why this approach may be helpful to you include the following:

  • People generally feel more comfortable discussing vulnerable topics with groups of people who are similar to them. Fear of social judgment can impede successful therapy. Individuals often feel the most judged by those they think can’t understand them because they don’t share their experiences. If people feel a kinship and understanding with those around them, they’re more likely to open up, which helps the healing process.
  • Group therapy can be more relevant in gender-specific programs. For example, women may wish to discuss trauma from sexual or domestic abuse, which is a much more common occurrence for women than for men. On the other hand, men more often experience issues with anger management and emotional expression. Therefore, the leader of a group therapy session can spend more time on relevant topics. This means everyone gets more out of the therapy.
  • Relapse prevention can be more effective in gender-specific treatment. Triggers for relapse tend to depend on your life experiences, which are heavily influenced by your identity. For example, men may need to focus on self-expression and self-care, while women may need to focus on cultivating healthy relationships. Support for relapse prevention can be geared toward these unique triggers in gender-exclusive environments.
  • Peer support and friendships are more easily accessed. People tend to find friendship and connection easier with people they relate to and understand. Because of this, gender-specific facilities offer easy access to peer support. This can be a vital component of the healing journey as it provides a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
  • Individuals may feel safer in gender-exclusive environments as a result of past trauma. Some individuals may have endured a traumatic experience at the hands of someone of another sex. As a result, they may feel unsafe around people of that sex. Feeling safe and comfortable is important during treatment, so gender-exclusive facilities may provide a healing environment to those individuals.

Finding the Right Facility for You

Every approach to treatment has its drawbacks. For example, gender-specific care may not be suitable for people of certain gender identities, such as non-binary individuals who don’t fall into the category of man or woman. When going into SUD treatment, it’s essential to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to determine the best treatment option for you. The program or facility you choose should fit your unique needs.

Feeling comfortable in the environment and confident in the care you’re receiving can increase your chances of a successful treatment and recovery journey. If the benefits listed above sound like they fit your needs, then gender-specific care might be the right approach for you.