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The Big Business of Sex Addiction

Posted on Nov 15, 2010
AP / Koji Sasahara

Et tu, Tiger?: Woods’ sex scandal was just a year ago, but his game has changed considerably since.

Cast your mind back to a time before sex addiction qualified as a legitimate issue rather than a snarky euphemism (although for some that might still be the case). Hard to remember, what with the Bill Clintons and Tiger Woodses bringing the term into common parlance?

Well, according to trained sex addiction therapist Alexandra Katehakis, her field hardly existed in 1997, but thanks to Clinton and Woods and maybe Eric Benet, or maybe not, the problem is gaining ground in psychotherapy circles—so much so that it might graduate someday to full disorder status.  —KA

Los Angeles Times:

The for-profit field is booming, thanks largely to Tiger Woods and other celebrities whose public visits to rehab have moved sex addiction, a controversial diagnosis not recognized by the medical establishment, into the mainstream and led a growing number of Americans to conclude that they — or in many cases, their spouses — needed treatment.

A testament to the increasing demand for services and the potential money to be made providing them is the entrance into the sex addiction market this week of the private-equity-backed corporation that owns Promises, the high-end Malibu drug rehabilitation center known for its Hollywood clientele. The Cerritos company, Elements Behavioral Health, is buying a Westside treatment center, the Sexual Recovery Institute, as part of an expansion that will eventually include luxe in-patient facilities like Promises for wealthy sex addicts and a national network of two-week outpatient programs for those of lesser means.

The company has not disclosed the purchase price, but Chief Executive David Sack said Elements was making a significant investment on the belief that the Internet, with its easy access to pornography and casual liaisons, had created an epidemic of untreated sex addiction in America and that the rehab stays of Woods, actors Russell Brand and David Duchovny and others had informed a previously ignorant public about the existence of treatment programs.

“You have a backlog of people who need this treatment, and all of a sudden through a celebrity they have become aware that something can be done,” said Sack, a psychiatrist.

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By tdbach, November 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

There’s a lot of nonsense going around about sex addiction. A good sampling coming from the comments section (honorable mention goes to James Harbour).

The point of the diagnosis isn’t that a little sex is ok, but a lot of sex is a sickness. It’s that for some people, sex can become pathological. It becomes something so compelling that they are willing to destroy everything else in their lives to sustain and protect their indulgence. As a teenager, sex was pretty freakin’ compelling, but I was never THAT out of control. Something else is going on.

I don’t know about Clinton, but Woods is a classic example. He had the world by the short and curlies. He had everything to lose. A run-of-the-mill philanderer would have had an occasional affair, or one ongoing affair carefully guarded with someone he trusted. They don’t always get away with it, but the steps they take are rational and careful. Tiger grew more reckless and daring over time. This is a smart guy who knew the microscope of celebrity was focused on him and guarded his privacy in everything he said and did, and yet by the end of his run he was text messaging sex messages to women he hardly knew.  Totally pathological.

“Addiction” may be an unfortunate term, as alcohol, cigarettes, and heroin addictions have much more tangible, physiological causes. But brain chemistry is very real too.  There are certain behaviors that flood the blood stream with brain chemicals not unlike opiates.

Behavioral addictions, like sex and gambling will be recognized medical conditions one day. And not because some psychiatrists see money in it, but because the science is there.

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By gerard, November 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Well, this one is going to bring the best out of everyone!
  1.  Take 12 steps forward. Don’t look back.
  2.  $7,500 for a 2-week program that “doesn’st even scratch the surface”.  What surface?
  3.  For $40,000 a month, go to a luxury hotel in Arizona—unless you are an illegal immigrant, in which cast turn left and stay in California.
  4.  Take the “R U a Sex Addict?” test online for free.  Join 60,000 others who take the test every month, just to be sure.
  5.  Full disclosure of past escapades required, along with verification of all financial assets, both of which may be disclosed to your spouse. (Just baring a different part of your anatomy for a change)
  6.  Special program for spouses is discretionary.
  7.  No oversight by government officials guaranteed.
  8   Recovery takes 2 or 3 years and recidivism is the “norm.”
  9.  Don’t give up.  There’s always prayer. Or exorcism?

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By kerryrose, November 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know. I knew a guy who not only thought about sex and his likihood of getting it, but manipulating it, shmoozed it, or inuendoed it 24/7.

It definitely wasn’t normal behavior because he didn’t function much otherwise.  I wouldn’t call him an addict, though, just a jerk and a parasite.

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By bogi666, November 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The wealthy have and always have had uninhibited sex. In fact the upper and lower strata of this society enjoy sexual freedom, but it is the middle class whom are restrained in their sexual conduct. It’s about power and control, using the pretend christian churches to create sexual taboo’s, and unhealthy shame about sexuality. Let’s look at Adam, Eve and the origin of unhealthy shame.They are naked without shame one moment and hiding their genitalia the next thus creating unhealthy shame.It was St. Augustine in the 4th or 5th century that created sexual behavior conduct for the Church based on his observations of sexual conduct by animals and transposing their conduct to humans, that sex was only for reproduction, which is true in the animal kingdom.

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By Diana Brooks, November 16, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
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its not a medical problem or a psychological problem but its big business. sexual addiction is a condition of the spirit…so many empty people…traditional religion can not fix these people either. when there is a spiritual void or emptyness you fill these areas with food, sex, alcohol, gambling, or excessive work, etc. soul searching is required.

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By Fat Freddy, November 16, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

Admitting you have a problem, is the first step.

Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over alcohol sex - that our lives had become unmanageable.

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By James Harbour, November 16, 2010 at 3:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No such disorder exists.  The inherent nature of a human being is to seek reproductive behavior - evolution’s method of ensuring that is by making sex immensely pleasurable - especially in the sex who must reach orgasm to reproduce.  The proliferation of the fraud that is the “sex addiction” craze is an attempt to disrupt that which is inherent in humans and replace it with something more aesthetically pleasing to the upper classes.  What they note as “sex addiction” is simply the reversal of centuries of death sentences imposed by Monotheists on those who do less to restrain their inherent natures.

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