WICKENBURG, ARIZONA (CBSLA) — As allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent Hollywood and political figures continue to make the daily headlines, some of the accused are seeking treatment for sex addiction, a controversial field some say has no scientific or medical basis.
Accused film producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey have reportedly sought treatment for sex addiction at a Wickenburg, Arizona rehabilitation facility called “Gentle Path at The Meadows.”
Dr. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. popularized the term “sex addiction” in the 1980s and runs the voluntary, 45-day treatment program at Gentle Path that runs about $58,000.
“Like any other addiction, it’s a problem where a person loses their ability to choose,” Carnes told CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas. “It’s a brain disease.”
He would not confirm the identity of any of his patients.
The behavior of a sex addict can range from watching pornography excessively or touching or exposing themselves inappropriately.
Dr. Damon Raskin, M.D., an internist with popular celebrity drug and alcohol rehab center Cliffside Malibu, says sex addiction is not a recognized disorder, adding that it can be used as a PR stunt to excuse behavior.
“If you call something ‘an addiction,’ then it gives something to do,” he told CBS News. “You have people like celebrities that can then use that as a ‘disease’ model, and go off to a rehab center. They can spend a lot of money and try to get the help that they need.”
The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize sex addiction as a mental illness.
Several doctors say sex addiction is just not real, to which Carnes said, “Whenever there is a scientific breakthrough, there is controversy.”
“The reality is the evidence for the brain disease of addiction is overwhelming,” Carnes asserted, saying it could take up to five years of therapy to reprogram an addict’s brain.
“I think this will be one of the most significant periods in our history,” Carnes said. “The good news in this is this conversation.”
Dr. Raskin said brain scans of people claiming to be sex addicts do not match those of people addicted to drugs.