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Several recent reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker told the stories of women who have accused Weinstein of harassing, groping, and raping them – a pattern of behavior that seems to have spanned decades. The powerful film executive’s decision to seek treatment came days after those allegations led the Weinstein Company to fire him, and just as his wife, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, announced she was leaving him.
Although Weinstein seems headed for in-patient rehab, it’s not clear whether he has ever received an official diagnosis or sought help in the past.
It’s also unknown exactly what kind of treatment he will receive, or where – TMZ initially reported that Weinstein was bound for an elite Swiss facility, but some reports now suggest he might be checking in at The Meadows treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Sex addiction treatment at the Meadows costs more than $37,000 a month, according to some online reviews. (The facility looks a bit like a desert spa, horses included.) It’s billed as ‘the nation’s premier inpatient treatment for sex addiction’ and offers a 45-day “gentle path” sex treatment program that can host up to 28 men in 24-hour monitored care.
Most inpatient sex addiction programs follow 12-step recovery models similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, with a mix of group sessions and one-on-one therapy. Some programs also prescribe patients antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-androgen drugs, which reduce sexual urges.
The Meadows’ website says: “Men are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. The goal is for these individuals to gain the courage to face difficult issues, including grief and loss; heal from emotional trauma; and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery.”
However, experts are still debating whether ‘sex addiction’ has a place among other chronic dependencies like gambling or drinking. According to the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, there’s not “sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder.” And ‘sexual addiction’ is not in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the go-to guide for American psychiatrists.
Psychologist Michael Bader has called sex addiction an excuse – he wrote in Psychology Today that the diagnosis is just a “gloss for bad behavior“. And many sex addiction therapists caution that not everyone who seeks treatment for sex addiction really needs help, since there are plenty who are merely looking for a way to justify past actions. Research by French psychiatrist Laurent Karila, on the other hand, has suggested that between 3 and 6% of the population suffers from sex addictions.
Celebrity Russell Brand described his sex addiction treatment in his memoir, saying he attended meetings every morning and afternoon in which the group would “go round the room” introducing themselves, then talk about how their everyday existence had become sexualized.
“These aren’t really wrongdoings as we would normally understand them,” Brand wrote in an excerpt of his memoir that ran in The Guardian, “more everyday actions that have developed a sexual component: ‘I had an erotic thought’; ‘I experienced eroticized rage’; or ‘I did some eroticized humor.'”
Professionals who work at treatment centers say month-long regimens are simply a starting point, and there’s no cure-all. Bob Poznanovich, executive director of community outreach at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Addiction Treatment Centers, does not treat sex addicts, but estimates that around 45% of all patients in any addiction treatment program suffer setbacks after the inpatient portion ends. Rehab for drug addiction is successful roughly half the time, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“People do relapse and that’s part of the disease,” he told Business Insider, adding that time, support, and a patient’s own belief that they can succeed all help in their recovery process.
As Weinstein wrote in a statement to the New York Times, “my journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”