Adam is five years sober, careful to avoid the Internet and even TV, doing all he can to purge his life of the sexual temptation that so permeates modern culture.
Titillating magazine ads, taxi TVs with leotard clad workout commercials, buxom billboard models — how can he keep it together?
Then he meets the adorable and gorgeous Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the sparks fly. She confesses her "big secret" straight away — she survived breast cancer.
He hides his, especially after she confesses that she could never get involved "with an addict" again.
Contractor Mike's addictions appear to have been many, which is why he struggles and fumes through each day, spouting self-help aphorisms as he does.
"Feelings are like children. You don't want them driving the car, but you shouldn't stuff them in the trunk, either."
Neither man has much time for Neil, an emergency-room doctor with mommy issues (Carol Kane), given to inappropriate jokes, thoughts and behavior.
But he's at the 12-step meeting, he has an honest moment, and that touches fellow sex addict Dede (pop singer Alecia "Pink" Moore).
Paltrow's Phoebe is the surrogate for the audience here, the person who asks our questions, who doesn't quite buy this "addiction." ("That's just what guys say when they get caught, right?")
But the all-inclusive 12-step meetings, filled with testimonials from drug, booze, gambling and sex addicts, take pains to treat this malady as seriously as the more accepted forms of addiction.