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Why Anthony Weiner’s Stint in Rehab Did Not Work For Him

Why Anthony Weiner’s Stint in Rehab Did Not Work For HimIf Anthony Weiner went through rehab in 2011, why didn’t rehab help him stop his compulsion to sext women he had never met in person?

The answer may be that he never went through rehab for sexual addiction or anything else.

Anthony Weiner’s problems began on May 27, 2011.  He had been serving in the U.S. Congress as a Democratic representative from New York since 1998 when pictures of his crotch surfaced on a right wing website. More than one woman came forward to report he sent them similar pictures along with lewd text messages as well.

Anthony Weiner denied the charges, claiming enemies had hacked into his website and “manufactured” the pictures.

When lying no longer was working for him, Anthony Weiner admitted that he had sexted about six women in three years, one of whom was only 17 years old.  Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats called for his resignation, and President Obama said if he were Weiner, he would resign. Weiner announced through a spokesman that he was seeking treatment in a rehabilitation center “to become a better and healthier person,” finally resigning from Congress on July 12, 2011.

That same day a New York Post reporter spotted Weiner in a Florida airport, and asked him how his rehab was going. Weiner did not correct the reporter or inform her that he was actually on a business trip and not flying back to New York after arranging rehab in Florida, as she had assumed.

On May 21, 2013, Weiner announced he was running for Mayor of New York, saying he and his wife had worked through their problems with the help of much therapy.  A few months later, a college student from Mount Carmel, Illinois, came forward to report that Weiner had set her lewd and unwanted pictures of himself and had wanted to meet her in a hotel in Chicago.  These messages were sent between September and October of 2012, long after Weiner’s rehab had supposedly been completed.

Andrea Payson, a reporter for the New York Post, wrote that Weiner told her “I worked a couple of days with a therapist in Texas. Two days, twice. A total of four days or it might have been three. I didn’t go into rehab anywhere.” The Texas facility he mentioned specializes in diagnosing disorders but not treating them.   Weiner never stayed for any length of time in rehabilitation, where he would have worked through an intensive, 24/seven program with others facing similar challenges.  Rehab would have involved intense personal psychotherapy, group therapy, and couples therapy, as well as workshops in art, music and drama designed to help clients like Weiner get in touch with their emotions, something Weiner says he is mostly unable to do.  The average stay for someone with problems like the former Congressman would be 30 to 45 days, sometimes more.

Weiner does claim that he worked with a personal therapist in New York, but talk therapy a few times a week is not the same as entering a rehabilitation center for a prolonged stay.

Weiner’s campaign for Mayor was interrupted by more women coming forward besides the Illinois student, all claiming he still had been sexting long after he promised his constituents he had overcome the problem and needed a second chance.  With his wife standing beside him at a press conference July 23, 2013, he showed no embarrassment for himself or her, and spoke about his problems without owning them, saying things like, “Some of these things happened before my resignation, and some of them happened after.”

Many celebrities have trouble entering rehab centers where they are treated like anyone else.  Yet if they manage to do this, they can do the internal work necessary to change their external behaviors. They leave rehab with a new set of tools they can use to overcome the prompts in their environments that trigger old self-sabotaging behaviors. Rehab is state-of-the-art treatment for addictions similar to Weiner’s, and it can and does help people become better and healthier.  If someone like Weiner does not get treatment, he dooms himself to repeat behaviors destructive to his family, his staff, his friends, his constituents, and especially himself.


“An Anthony Weiner Timeline,” The Staff of CNN,

Crocker, Liz. “Eight Facts About Sex Rehab,” The Daily Beast, June 15, 2011.

Hernandez, Raymond. “Despite Plan to Enter Rehab, Weiner Still Faces Calls to Resign.” New York Times, June 12, 2011.

LoGiurato, Brett and Josh Barro. “Anthony Weiner Announces He’s Staying In Race At Cringeworthy Press Conference,” Business Insider, July 23, 2013.

Peyser, Andrea. “Anthony Weiner hides from the tough questions and serves up pizza for reporters,” The New York Daily News, May 23, 2013.

Roberts, Georgette et al. “Weiner heads to rehab as Pelosi, party leaders call on him to resign,” The New York Post, June 12, 2011.

Van Meter, Jonathan. “Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin’s Post-Scandal Playbook,” New York Times. April 10, 2013.

Westfall, Sandra. “Anthony Weiner: How Last Summer’s Interview with PEOPLE Stacks Up Now.” July 18, 2013. People Magazine,

Westfall, Sandra. Anthony Weiner ‘I Feel Like a Different Person,’ People Magazine, July 12, 2012.

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