Inside Jesse James' Reported Sex Addiction Treatment

Jesse James could be confronting tough issues in a spa-like setting.

March 31, 2010, 4:45 PM

April 1, 2010 — -- What do you do with a problem like Jesse James?

After four women came out claiming to have had affairs with James, the husband of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock checked himself into a treatment facility, possibly to deal with sex addiction issues.

"Jesse checked himself into a treatment facility to deal with personal issues," James' representative said in a statement to People magazine late Tuesday. "He realized that this time was crucial to help himself, help his family and help save his marriage."

According to and, James checked into the Sierra Tuscon facility in Arizona, which specializes in drug, alcohol and sex addiction, as well as other disorders. James' representative didn't immediately respond to's requests for comment; a representative for Sierra Tuscon said the facility doesn't confirm or deny reports of patients in the facility.

Sierra Tuscon might have special meaning for James -- it's the same facility that Bullock reportedly used while she prepared to shoot the 2000 movie "28 Days," in which she plays a hard drinker forced into rehab.

Considering James has no known history of drug or alcohol abuse, it's plausible that he's taking a page from Tiger Woods' book, seeking to tame the beast that allegedly made him cheat. Sound like a stint at the spa? Yes and no, according to mental health experts contacted by The surroundings may be lavish:

"It's definitely posh," said integrative medicine specialist Dr. Eric Braverman, who has sent patients to Sierra Tuscon in the past. "There's therapy, there's a forest, there are outdoor activities. It's like Canyon Ranch with counseling."

But if James is undergoing sex addiction treatment, he's got a world of (emotional) pain ahead of him.

"Most studies show that 80 percent of people struggling with sexual compulsions have some kind of family-of-origin or sexual trauma," said Aline Zoldbrod, a psychologist specializing in individual and couples therapy and author of the book "SexSmart."

"Trauma is not just sexual trauma, it's emotional neglect, physical neglect or abuse, emotional abuse, experiencing or witnessing family violence, and/or growing up with parents who are addicted or mentally ill. In treatment, the patient is forced to take a long, hard, deep look at his family history and to confront the painful feelings which he or she has avoided in a supportive, informed atmosphere."

Treatment for Jesse James?

Bullock could be brought in to James' treatment as well.

"There are all kinds of meetings," Zoldbrod said. "Family meetings, couple meetings, group meetings. "The patient is introduced to the kind of 12-step procedure alcoholics go through."

According to Dr. David Greenfield, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, for sex addicts, sex elevates the neurotransmitter Dopamine, and it's the elevation -- not necessarily the physical act -- that patients crave. Prescription drugs can help sex addicts regulate their cravings.

"Anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications can also be used to reduce the stress and anxiety often associated with compulsive sexual behavior," said Dr. Steven Chang, author of DailyDose on

On its Web site, Sierra Tuscon details its approach to sex addiction. Much of their program treads the usual rehab trail -- "daily process groups, weekly therapeutic recreation activities, psychodrama, 12-step 'S' meetings, grief therapy, and family treatment." Two procedures stand out -- "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) sessions and Somatic Experiencing sessions."

What's all that about? EMDR is based on the notion that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts. EMDR therapy involves getting the patient to recall a past traumatic event while they are stimulated to have rapid eye movements. As this is happening, the patient is encouraged to "reprogram" the painful memory to be associated with a positive, self-chosen belief instead of the bad memory.

Somatic Experiencing takes things a step further. Patients are encouraged to become aware of the tension, stress and other physical manifestations of trauma and regulate their reactions. In doing so, they can regulate their perception of the trauma.

Sierra Tuscon recommends at least four weeks of inpatient treatment for sexual addiction. For James, a month out of the game could prove costly. He is CEO of West Coast Choppers, which posted annual sales of $4.3 million last year from manufacturing custom motorcycles. He is also the host of Spike TV's "Jesse James Is a Dead Man." But if the motorcycle mogul intends to slay his demons, he'll be camped out at the facility for a while -- according to reports, James checked in March 26.

ABC News' Dan Childs contributed to this report.

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