- What is SA?
- What kind of problems does SA address?
- How do people recover in SA?
- What happens at an SA meeting?
- How is SA funded?
- How is anonymity preserved?
- Is Sexaholics Anonymous a religious organisation?
- Do men and women attend meetings?
- How does SA differ from other sex-related fellowships?
- How does SA work with professionals?
- Can people representing SA advise on external committees and boards relating to sexual addiction?
Sexaholics Anonymous is a 12 Step fellowship modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous. SA has members are addicted to lust, sex, dependency relationships and wide variety of forms of self-destructive sexual thinking and behaviour. The first regular SA meeting was started in 1981 in Los Angeles.
“Those of us who are recovering in Sexaholics Anonymous were driven here by many different forms of the same problem. Some of us fit society’s stereotypes of what a sexaholic might be and some of us did not. Some of us were driven to buy or sell sex on the streets, others to have it anonymously in bars or public places. Some of us found ourselves in painful and destructive affairs or consumed by an unhealthy obsession with a particular person or succession of persons. Many of us kept our obsessions to ourselves, resorting to compulsive masturbation, pictures, fetishes, voyeurism, or exhibitionism. Some of us victimised others. And with many of us, our compulsions took a toll on family, coworkers, and friends. Very often, we felt that we were the only ones who could not stop, that we were doing this – whatever it was – against our will.
When we came to SA, we found that in spite of our differences, we shared a common problem – the obsession of lust, usually combined with a compulsive demand for sex in some form. We identified with one another on the inside. Whatever the details of our problem, we were dying spiritually – dying of guilt, fear, and loneliness.” (Sexaholics Anonymous pp 1-2)
Meetings are a crucial part of recovery, but recovery is mostly what we do inbetween meetings. SA offers a collection of tools to aid recovery: fellowship, literature, sponsorship, 12 Steps, service, conferences. The Twelve Steps are at the core of recovery. Adapted from the original Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, SA’s 12 Steps involve: admitting there is a problem, seeking help, self-appraisal, confidential self-disclosure, making amends where harm has been done and working with other sexaholics who want to recover. There are no counsellors or therapists in SA, members meet at regular “meetings” where people share their own experience, strength and hope in overcoming their addiction. SA provides no vocational, legal, financial, psychiatric, medical or professional services.
Generally meetings last 1-2 hours and are held in places such as community centres or churches. Members gather, there is usually some kind of reading from literature or a guest speaker may tell his/her story. Members then talk about how they relate to what has been read or said. People may also use the time to talk through some particular difficulty which may be troubling them. Refreshments are generally served before or after the meeting.
Sexaholics Anonymous is entirely self-supporting from members’ voluntary contributions. We pass a basket at the end of each meeting. This pays for room rental, refreshments and basic administrative expenses. Most members contribute $2-$5 each meeting. There is no problem if members cannot afford to contribute. It is policy to turn down financial offers from external bodies or individuals.
Personal anonymity is the safeguard of each individual SA member. First names are generally used at meetings. Some use a nickname or pseudonym. We do not keep records of members names and addresses.
No. SA has no religious affiliations. Although the 12 Step recovery program is “spiritual”, it is essentially practical. Because of SA’s particular approach to recovery SA attracts many members who are part of faith communities. Members include: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics.
Yes. SA meetings are open to both men and women. Where SA is larger there can be separate womens meetings. Internationally, women are about 10% of SA’s membership. SA in Australia currently has some women members but not in every city. The lack of women members in many meetings may be problematic for some women. We endeavour to make our meetings a safe and comfortable place for all who want sexual sobriety. There is an international network of SA women offering meetings by phone, Skype and email. Email SA Central Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with these women’s meetings.
In other S-fellowships members determine their own definition of sexual sobriety. Sexaholics Anonymous differs because it has a definition of sexual sobriety.
In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous. We can only speak for ourselves. Thus, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse (in the marriage between a man and a woman). For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust.
Our definition of sobriety represents, for us, the basic and necessary condition for lasting freedom from the pain that brought us to SA. We have found that nothing else works. When we have tried to deny what our common experience has taught us, we have found that recovery still eludes us. And this seems to be true whether we are male or female; married or single; whether our acting out was with the same or opposite sex; whether our relationships were “committed,” “meaningful,” or one-night stands; or whether we just resorted to a little sex with self as a “physical outlet.” As the men and women of Alcoholics Anonymous learned over fifty years ago, “half-measures availed us nothing”!
We don’t claim to understand all the ramifications of sexual sobriety. Some of us have come to believe that there is a deeper spiritual significance in sexual sobriety, while others simply report that without a firm and clear bottom line, our “cunning, baffling, and powerful” sexaholism takes over sooner or later. Nor do we claim that sobriety alone will lead to a lasting and joyous recovery. Like alcoholics, we can be “dry” without being sober in a deeper sense. We don’t even claim that sexual sobriety will make one feel better immediately. We, like other addicts, can go through withdrawal symptoms when we give up our “drug.”
Nonetheless, in spite of the questions, struggles, and confusion that we have gone through, we find that sexual sobriety is truly “the key to a happy and joyous freedom we could otherwise never know.”……(Sexaholics Anonymous pp 191-2)
SA, like other 12 Step Progams, has a tradition of co-operation rather than affiliation with the professional community. Sexaholics Anonymous welcomes the co-operation of those in government, the clergy, the helping professions and voluntary organisations. In turn SA is happy to co-operate with others interested in Sexaholics Anonymous by: providing information, speakers, literature and contact information about recovery through the SA fellowship. SA’s non-sexaholic friends have been instrumental in helping SA to grow around the world. More information for professionals.
No. SA’s 12 Traditions states that “SA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the SA name ought never be drawn into public controversy”. There is nothing to stop an individual SA member expressing opinions on external issues, but no one can speak for SA.