Tiger Woods appeared to be a person who is seriously dealing with his sexual addiction during a nearly 14-minute press conference on Friday (February 19). But in the professional golfer's first public appearance since a Thanksgiving car crash that led to revelations of his multiple infidelities and an apparent sexual addiction, something was clearly off, according to addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.
"He was clearly upset and appeared rather depressed," said Pinksy, who recently wrapped the first season of VH1's VH1's "Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew,"
on which a variety of musicians, models, athletes and entertainers dealt with their sexual compulsions. "He appeared remorseful and apologetic, but I walked away feeling something was very wrong."
Pinsky said the way in which Woods repeatedly "fell on his sword" during the carefully staged press conference, calling himself a bad, flawed person who had done wrong did not feel like the kind of behavior one would expect from a person in recovery.
"He should have stated that and then talked about what caused him to act in a way so inconsistent with his values," said Pinsky, who is not treating Woods.
A spokesperson for Woods could not be reached for comment on Pinsky's remarks at press time.
"We saw him bring up [wife] Elin multiple times to appease her, which is fine. There were some P.R. moments where he talked about sponsors, but then he talked about going back to treatment. You usually don't go back to intense treatment [after spending more than 40 days]. You usually go to an outpatient environment. That was an indication to me that something is very wrong."
Asked to speculate what that something could be, Pinsky said it could be serious depression and/or harmful thoughts, a struggle to commit to the treatment program or a lack of progress in treatment. "If he's going back, something is very wrong," he said. "The only time he looked down and seemed to be deeply ashamed was when he talked about treatment ... feelings of depression in cases like this are appropriate, but I don't see him capitulating to the treatment."
While Woods did say he had been in treatment and would be returning to a program on Saturday, he did not specify what kind of rehab he had attended, though it is widely believed to be an intensive sexual addiction clinic. Pinksy saw some good signs of progress, such as Woods' comments about finding a group of peers at the facility and wanting to help them with their recovery, but overall he saw someone who appeared to be struggling.
"The prognosis is good as long as he continues his treatment," Pinsky said. "And the fact that Elin is still in the game and part of the picture is positive. But he needs to be in treatment and follow the recommendations of his treatment team, and the best thing for him is not to go back to golf now." Woods said he did eventually plan to return to golf, but did not speculate on when that might be.
As with any addiction, the threat of relapse is always a possibility and Pinksy said for Woods avoiding that trap would mean following a comprehensive program for three to five years. "He seems willing, but he's in the early stages," he said. "If he really follows the program for that long the incidence of relapse tends to be less."
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