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Doctor talks about sex clinic that treated Tiger

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Doctor Patrick Carnes Doctor Patrick Carnes

By Mike McDaniel

Hattiesburg, MS - Golf superstar Tiger Woods' reputations has taken a beating after a sex scandal surfaced involving extramarital affairs. 

The founder of the Hattiesburg sex addiction clinic Woods was allegedly visiting for treatment, Doctor Patrick Carnes, granted a rare interview to talk about the facility and what sex addiction really means.

Tucked away between everyday businesses off of Broadway drive in Hattiesburg is a place which recently found itself the center of attention, as a center for sex addiction. This after one celebrity was reportedly treated and another admitting to being treated.

The facility is touted as world renowned and considered a leader in the field, but what goes on and who is behind these walls is between doctor and patient.   Carnes says, "All addiction is limited by opportunity."

Since it opened in 2004 the doctor in charge and founder of pine grove's gentle path clinic is Patrick Carnes, who says sex addiction, because of it being an uncomfortable topic for many, is tough for people to understand.

"This is no longer a question of whether the disease exists. There are questions about how does it all work," Carnes said.

Carnes points to patients with histories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, later developing into an addiction to sex, which he says is just like any other addiction.

"The myth is that you have to take chemicals to be addicted but now as we understand the brain, that a brain disease is literally where the reward centers of the brain make it impossible for the person to make good choices for themselves."

Carnes says for anyone looking to use sex addiction as an excuse, it's typically caught ahead of time.

"Usually that's been sorted out before they get to us. There are therapists in every metropolitan area across the country that work in our network. By the time they get to an inpatient setting, it's because something has happened that they recognize they can't go on living like this."

For anyone receiving treatment at gentle path, which is typically a six week period, Carnes says it begins with a 12-step program, then includes disease education, group and family work, but treatment doesn't come without challenges.

"If the patient doesn't do what we ask, we use the phrase "dead man walking" because whether it be cocaine, or heroin, or gambling, or sex, or food, they all can take you down."

Carnes says another challenge is the Internet with online pornography and cyber sex, both of which can foster an addiction, even in young children. But, if the treatment is followed by the book, written by Carnes himself, he says the addiction came be controlled, but just as with any brain disease, can take 3 to 5 years.

Carnes says, "When they leave us they return to a therapist in their hometown and they continue working those tasks and if they do that, the success rate is quite high."

Success can also be costly, considering the cost to run the facility as a whole, but Carnes says the cost of someone's personal life can be even greater, if there's no treatment.

"Compared to what they were doing, it's a low cost option," said Carnes.

For patients of all addictions coming in to pine grove, Carnes says many are suicidal and that mental health is the country's biggest issue.

"Forrest General and Pine Grove is really a very unique opportunity for this kind of work. It's something this community can really take pride in."

Pride in a place more than just a business, but a place so many turn to for help.