Is Sex Addiction Real Or An Excuse?

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The country’s growing sexual misconduct scandal is putting a new focus on a controversial field – sex addiction rehab.

More than 80 women accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault and more than a dozen men allege sexual misconduct by Kevin Spacey.

Both men are now reportedly being treated at the same upscale rehab facility in Wickenburg, Arizona.

But is sex addiction a proven diagnosis, or just an excuse to retreat from the public eye?

A little more than an hour North of Phoenix is the 35-acre sex addiction treatment center called “Gentle Path at the Meadows.”

The voluntary 45-day treatment costs $58,000.

Founder Patrick Carnes first popularized the term sex addiction in the early 1980’s.

“Like any other addiction, it’s a problem where a person loses their ability to choose..it’s a brain disease,” said Carnes.

Carnes says an addict’s behaviors can range from watching porn excessively to touching or exposing oneself in inappropriate ways.

Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey join a list of celebrities who’ve reportedly sought treatment for sex addiction, including Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner.

Dr. Damon Raskin, is with the drug and alcohol treatment center Cliffiside Malibu.

He says sex addiction is not a recognized disorder, and therapy can be a public relations stunt.

“If you call something an addiction then it gives you something to do. People, like celebrities, then can use that as a disease model and go off to a rehab center where they can spend a lot of money and try to get the help they need,” said Raskin.

Dr. Raskin says brain scans of people claiming sex addiction do not match those addicted to drugs.

There are a number of doctors who say sex addiction isn’t real.

“Whenever there is a scientific breakthrough, there’s controversy. The reality is this – the evidence for the brain disease of addiction is overwhelming,” said Carnes.

Carnes says it can take up to five years with extensive therapy to reprogram an addict’s brain.

Still, his facility does not release data on how many patients make a full recovery but as the list of those accused of sexual misconduct continues to grow, Carnes hopes the headlines will help create change.

“I think this’ll be one of the most significant periods in our history. The good news is this conversation,” said Carnes.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize sex addiction as a mental illness.

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