As reports that “Congressman Anthony Weiner heads to rehab” continue to dominate headlines (and the Twitter-sphere), I am receiving an increasing number of media calls asking to explain exactly how sex addiction treatment works.  While many believe that “Men In Power” heading to rehab is a blatant attempt to “help their image” or somehow excuse their bad behavior, I can promise you that rehab isn’t intended to serve either of those purposes.

Pre- Rehab: Crisis (in this case “Weinergate”)

The initial need for any addiction treatment – whether sex, gambling, food, drug or sex rehab – is most often born out of a crisis. For those attending sexual addiction treatment the crisis tends to be related to their profound betrayal of primary relationships, but problems can also center on health, work, legal or financial issues that have come about due to their sexual behavior problem. Sometimes a crisis is created to get someone to go into rehab and this is called an Intervention.

Once in rehab:

1. Evaluation

Once someone lands on the doorstep of any reputable addiction specialist or rehab, it is the job of that program to evaluate nearly every aspect of that person’s life. Evaluating sex addicts involves looking at the entire person and how they live their lives -not just their sexual or romantic behaviors. They are assessed for other addictions; mental or physical health problems; relationship, family, legal, work and financial concerns. A complete and thorough sexual history is taken and reviewed to consider how past issues relate to current problems.

2. Confrontation

All addicts suffer from distorted thinking. Addicts minimize, justify, rationalize, keep secrets and lie; both to remain active in their addiction and avoid getting caught.  Active sex addicts have profound distortions running their lives, beliefs that must be examined and confronted in treatment. For example sex addicts often mistake sexual intensity for true intimacy or believe that their hidden sexual hook-ups and hours spent daily with porn and masturbation won’t ruin their marriage or ability to parent. Over time they become detached from healthy fear – like the possibility of catching a disease or being humiliated in public if found out.  It is the job of the treatment program to confront this faulty thinking, encourage addicts to reach out for help more often and become accountable for their future sexual and romantic choices.

3. Grief

Sex addicts have much to grieve. Having stopped their sexual acting out, not only do they have to look at the immediate consequences of that behavior like broken trust, relationship problems, diseases and the like -but treatment also encourages sex addicts to revisit their past. Old hurts, losses, trauma, neglect and past abuses are reviewed and addressed as the addict works to understand how they learned and chose a life seen through a sexual lens – and how to break free. Every addict has to grieve the loss of their addiction itself and sex addicts are no exception. Good rehab helps sex addicts come to terms with giving up recreational sex as their primary way to escape and distract from life’s stresses and problems.

4. Relapse Prevention

Treatment offers sex addicts concrete tools to help calm their anxiety and soothe their emotional pain, when prior to treatment sexual intensity felt like their sole self-care option. In treatment, sex addicts get much needed help defining healthy sexuality from pathological sex, while learning how to manage emotional and sexual boundaries with others. Beneath sex, porn and relationship addictions lies a true intimacy disorder; one that keeps most sex addicts, even those adored by millions (like many politicians, actors, and professional athletes) feeling alone and isolated most of their lives. Good treatment brings people with similar problems together to reduce shame, encourage honesty and build a path toward healthy intimacy.

5. Integration

Living life on life’s terms without returning to sexual acting out is the primary task for any sex addict completing rehab. Well-designed treatment helps anticipate the day-to-day challenges and temptations yet to come. Spouses and family members, who are best served by being involved in treatment from the beginning, are given their own tools and support to help rebuild family lives shattered by betrayal and broken trust. Sex addicts are provided with resources to follow-up their intensive treatment and encouraged to commit to long-term participation in therapy, 12-step, and/or faith-based support groups. Sexual recovery is a lifetime process, not a quick fix found in sex rehab, but the process of treatment does offer a safe place to stop the behavior, assess the damage and while learning the skills to live in healthy integrity.

Sex Rehab: Quick Facts

  • There are Inpatient (http://www.recoveryranch.com/), Intensive Outpatient (www.SexualRecovery.com) and outpatient treatment models for sexual addition.
  • It is best to seek treatment from an established sexual addiction specialist (CSAT), not a general therapist or a facility that primarily treats drug/alcohol center.
  • It is best to have spouses, wives and partners directly involved in the treatment process from the very beginning.
  • 12-step support programs for sexual addiction are available in every major US city and on the Internet (http://www.SASH.net).
  • Sexual addiction is increasingly being understood as a definable problem, with treatment methods that are strategic, task oriented and purposeful.
  • Treatment for sex addiction is not typical ‘talk therapy’ it is more active and directive.

Robert Weiss is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute and Director of Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch Treatment Center and Promises Treatment Centers. These centers serve individuals seeking sexual addiction treatment and porn addiction help.

Follow Robert on Twitter @RobWeissMSW

 


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From Psych Central's website:
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    Last reviewed: 6 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Weiss LCSW, R. (2011). Sex Rehab for Weiner? How Sexual Addiction Treatment Works. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2011/06/sex-rehab-for-weiner-how-sexual-addiction-treatment-works/

 

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