Tiger Woods May Be Role Model for Battling Sex Addiction

"The biggest problem with sex addiction is that if you are an alcoholic you can go cold turkey and quit," Kerner said. "If you're addicted to drugs, you can stop taking those drugs. If you are a sex addict and you're married, you're not likely to become a monk or a eunuch. You have to return to the activity that is a trigger for your addiction."

For a sex addict, "recovery" could mean no sex outside of marriage. Alternatively, it may mean no longer viewing pornography, or being able to last the work day without logging into a sex-related chat room.

If indeed Woods is seeking treatment at Pine Grove, Kerner said, he will eventually face the challenge of distinguishing "between the kind of sex that is unhealthy and the kind of sex that is truly about nurturing an intimate relationship" with a loved one.

"The first thing that he is going to do is 'detox' and be removed from any type of activity that causes him to think about sex," he said, adding that those in treatment are likely to undergo both psychoanalytic therapy to determine the cause of his addiction and cognitive behavioral therapy, which will reveal what triggers unhealthy sexual behaviors.

Denizet-Lewis said that for sex addicts, making the effort to get treatment is the first step toward recovery.

"It's hard to imagine the incredible humility that it takes to say, 'I can't control my sexual behavior, and a really need help.' It's scary," he said. "Recovery from sex addiction is a daily challenge. I'm doing well now, but I could slip up tomorrow if I'm not careful."

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