A Good Start
There are reports that Tiger Woods has been in the Meadows, in Wickenburg Arizona. If this is so, that is a great start. My colleague and friend, Dr. Patrick Carnes was the former clinical director at the meadows. Carnes a nationally known speaker on addiction and recovery issues is now at the Pine Grove Treatment Center in Hattiesburg Mississippi. The Meadows is first rate place for those struggling with this addiction and other addictions.
Dr. Carnes coined the phrase sex addiction when he did his landmark study decades ago, giving a name and hope to those living in the shadows of sexual compulsion. No doubt Woods will deal with the things that make him feel so worthless that he put his life and his wife at risk
When someone is caught as Woods was, that is a tell tell sign the addiction is way out of control, they can no longer hide the bottles. I recall a presentation in Collegeville Minnesota when Carnes described the compulsivity of sex addiction; airline pilots having sex with over 1,000 partners, doctors going to anonymous sex clubs whereby they had sexual contact through a tiny hole with God knows who. As the HBO series addiction chronicled, the addict continues with this behavior despite catastrophic consequences, they are out of control.
Many poke fun but only a sexually compulsive person would have unprotected sex with a bunch of strangers as Woods did. For my part, I am glad he went. I had started to email Patrick and ask him had he reached out to Woods. I had thought about writing an open letter to woods urging him to go to the gentle Path in Mississippi or the Meadows. One thing I would say to Tiger: Relapse is a very real possibility.
In a workshop titled the Recovery Zone Carnes discussed the reality of relapse and how this must be built into any recovery program.
For Woods we know his life is unmanageable we know he has low self esteem and grandiose feelings. Folks who care about themselves do not risk their health with anonymous partners in unprotected sex acts, they do not have appropriate self love but out of balance, too little too much.
I wish him well and success. His marriage may not survive. But I know countless ex addicts whose marriage has weathered this horrible betrayal. The work is not for the faint of heart. My colleague Dr. Mark Laaser and his wife Deb Laaser do workshops for couple who are to put things back together. Mark came out of the shadows once his addiction to porn and abusing his clients was exposed. It was a long painful journey but he and Deb are doing great. Dateline NBC had his story on several years ago. In an age where folks run to the disease model it is easy to be cynical about Woods motives. Whether he had the wrong motives or not for checking in, I believe the therapists at the Meadows will confront his lies and deception, especially his self deception so that he can come out a better person.
When that happens he can attempt to make amends to those he hurt. Some may never want to have anything to do with him. That is a consequence. But some will be willing to give him another chance. I for one was not thrilled at his Cabalasian remark though I understood it. He was in my opinion trying not to be labeled but honor all of his roots and escape the myth, if you have a drop of black in you, you are black. His mother is Asian. I am sure many in the black community feel relieved he did not identify with us now that his dirty laundry is hanging out to dry. But I for one hope he gets it together. If Ray Charles can do it, so can Tiger.