We believe that
many problematic out-of-control sexual behaviors are rightly classified as an addictive disorder. As such, we follow the addiction treatment model formulated in the 1940s and 1950s for the treatment of alcoholism and
chemical dependency. We have seen much success with this model of treatment for what we call "sex addiction."
Prior to the 1930s, there was no real treatment for problem drinking. Alcoholism was considered a moral
failing, and alcoholics were "bad" people. As such, those who were lucky enough to receive any treatment, were housed in psychiatric hospitals with the mentally ill. Most alcoholics never received any type of treatment
while their disease progressed and more often than not resulted in homelessness and death.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 and within a few years began to grow in popularity. Early alcohol "treatment"
centers started popping up in the late 1940s when recovering alcoholics realized that there was a need for a higher level of care for some alcoholics, who were still not being routinely treated in hospitals or in the
One such early "treatment" facility was Pioneer House in Minnesota, which was run by a recovering alcoholic named Patrick Cronin. Pioneer House was a place where alcoholics could stay for a period
of time, go to on-site AA meetings, engage in fellowship with other recovering alcoholics, and hear lectures about alcoholism. Alcoholics could also go to Pioneer House to "detox" – although the methods were very
primitive and not medically supervised.
Around the same time, also in Minnesota, Hazelden was founded on similar principles as Pioneer House. One of the main differences was that Hazelden was in a more
comfortable setting and catered to the "business class." Both Pioneer House and Hazelden relied heavily upon the AA principles and the 12-Steps. The number one focus was on abstaining from alcohol.
psychiatrist named Nelson Bradley and a psychologist named Dan Anderson, who worked at a psychiatric hospital in Minnesota known as Willmar, began to come up with some "radical" ways of treating alcoholics who were
housed at the facility together with the mentally ill patients. Bradley and Anderson separated the alcoholics from the mentally ill and developed a medical treatment approach to alcoholism that was, at the time,
very much out of the mainstream modalities – although today, the treatment developed by Bradley and Anderson is widely accepted.
The Willmar model focused on every aspect of the patient's life. The theory was
to try to view every part of the patient's day as a therapeutic experience. Doctors took off their white coats and stethoscopes and became "equal" to the patients. Treatment teams were formed – consisting of doctors,
psychologists, nurses, clergy, social workers, and lay counselors – and each treatment team would consult to come up with a treatment plan customized to each patient's needs. The patients also became part of their
treatment team and actively participated in the development of their own treatment plans. There was focus on nutrition, physical health/fitness, and work. It became more patient-centric than the previous approach
of stringent rules.