Is Anthony Weiner a sex addict?
Is sex addiction even real, or merely a way out, an excuse, for the compulsive behavior that can sabotage careers and destroy families?
Karen Brownd, director of the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at the Ranch Recovery Center in Tennessee, says that while she’s never spoken with the New York City mayoral candidate, Weiner’s behavior has all the markings of sex addiction, which is every bit as real as drug and alcohol addiction.
Weiner, who has admitted to sending additional lewd images and texts even after his 2011 resignation from Congress for doing just that, says now that he will stay in the race and is asking voters to give him another chance.
“If anyone shows an addictive pattern of behavior and they cannot stop on their own, it’s highly recommended that they seek help with an intensive therapist or a residential facility so that they can look at the cause of the behavior to help them around not relapsing and to seek support in staying healthy by changing those addictive behaviors,” Brownd said during the Larry Elder show on KABC.
Brownd said many people are familiar with the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s criteria for addiction, which include an inability to consistently abstain from a behavior, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. The criteria for sex, love and relationship addiction meet them “exactly as stated,” she said.
It’s escalating and they can’t stop it on their own,” Brownd said of sex addiction. They are seeking intensity vs. intimacy, which is why it’s called an intimacy disorder.
“Sex equals love to them,” Brownd said.
As with any addiction, doctors and therapists look for the “why,” the underlying cause that allowed the self-destructive behavior to take root. Brownd said it’s about “numbing out.”
“Why does somebody act out with alcohol, drugs, sex, all of that? It’s to have control over their lives .. they have had trauma, abandonment issues, they need some way to numb out to what’s going on so that they can meet the expectations that they’ve been put under most of their lives.”
Tiger Woods went to sex addiction treatment in 2010. He is back on the golf course now, but treatment shouldn’t stop with the end of residential care, Brownd said. While Weiner said this week that the behavior “is behind me,” sex addiction treatment can last a lifetime, according to Brownd.
‘You have to have a good aftercare plan; you need to be part of a strong sober sex, love and addiction support system,” she said. “We recommend a 12-step program. Aftercare is as important as the residential treatment itself. The aftercare can be a lifetime event. We’re trying to undo a pattern of behavior that has gotten to that level.”
But what about the spouse? Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, has stayed by him throughout the crisis, saying this week that their marriage has had its ups and downs, but after “a whole lot of therapy,” she remains committed to the relationship.
“There’s trauma that occurs with the partner or spouse,” Brownd said. “There’s shock, betrayal, mistrust and we recommend that the person seek treatment so they can come out of that place of trauma, deal with their own issues, and be stronger. They need to heal and set their own boundaries for dealing with someone in recovery.”