LOS ANGELES—The adult entertainment industry may be hurting badly, but the sex addiction industry is doing quite fine, thanks ironically to online porn, which corporate investors believe is spurring an epidemic in sex addiction. The field has so much growth potential that private equity firms are getting in on the action by underwriting investments in new sex addiction centers.
The tipping point for thousands of people came with the revelation that Tiger Woods was having sex with about a thousand women from every walk of life despite being married to a gorgeous woman who loved him and bore him beautiful children. Visits by Woods and other high-profile celebrities to sex addiction clinics have, according to the Los Angeles Times, “moved sex addiction, a controversial diagnosis not recognized by the medical establishment, into the mainstream and led a growing number of Americans to conclude that they—or in many cases, their spouses—needed treatment.”
But the big money—the sort of money that can smell the big investments of the future—is betting on the fact that it is the proliferation of internet porn that will make the sex addiction and therapy industry a winner for years to come.
One such private-equity-backed corporate investor, Cerritos-based Elements Behavioral Health, announced only this week that it is buying a Westside treatment center, the Sexual Recovery Institute, as "part of an expansion that will eventually include luxe in-patient facilities like Promises (the high-end Malibu drug rehab center) for wealthy sex addicts and a national network of two-week outpatient programs for those of lesser means.”
If there was any question about why Behavioral Health believes its investment is a good one, CEO David Sack left no doubt when he said Elements “was making a significant investment on the belief that the Internet, with its easy access to pornography and casual liaisons, had created an epidemic of untreated sex addiction in America and that the rehab stays of Woods, actors Russell Brand and David Duchovny and others had informed a previously ignorant public about the existence of treatment programs.”
Sack, a psychiatrist, added, “"You have a backlog of people who need this treatment, and all of a sudden through a celebrity they have become aware that something can be done.”
All of this is happening despite the fact that neither sex nor porn addiction is officially regarded as a disorder, and that some addiction experts and therapists, including people like Stanton Peele and Marty Klein, are vociferous critics of traditional notions of addiction therapy, which they do not believe are useful in the treatment of addiction.
In the end, however, if people believe they are addicted to something, then society tends to follow the notion until it becomes an accepted fact of life.
In a Huffington Post article published Monday, Peele wrote, “The definition of addiction shifts. It has shifted over history. It shifted in the 1980s, when cocaine and nicotine were labeled addictive. It shifted again in the 1990s, when marijuana was called addictive. It is shifting under our feet right now as the forthcoming edition of the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, DSM-5, has designated gambling as an addictive disorder.”
Next up is sex and then porn. And the pressure is on groups like the APA to add them to the list of recognized disorders and addictions. Just today, Morality in Media president Robert Peters issued a statement condemning Playboy TV for a new erotic reality show directed at younger women. Whether soft or hard, he claimed, it’s all porn.
Furthermore, he wrote. “Pornography is addictive, and when a person becomes addicted to pornography, what first excites loses its attraction, prompting the individual to seek “rougher, more explicit, more deviant, and ‘kinky’ kinds of sexual material to get their ‘highs’ and ‘sexual turn-ons.’”
That, of course, is where the internet serves its real purpose, not just for those looking for the “high,” but for the increasing numbers of corporate investors who stand to make a killing from those highs.
God bless America.