New to Sexaholics Anonymous? Glad you found us! You are not alone.
If you identify with us, we would like to share our solution with you. The nature of our addiction is that it usually operates in secret, behind closed doors: usually pornography, masturbation, and elicit sex, as well as varied other forms of sexual stimulation, such as voyeurism, exhibitionism and dependency relationships. Many of us lived a double-life: we displayed who we wanted to be on the outside, and inside we knew the secrets we were hiding. The tragedy is that many visitors to our website think they are the only ones struggling with this problem, or at least that they have it worse than anyone else.
Reading the Literature
For many of us, a place where we felt safe to start our journey of recovery was to read some of the available literature online. The SA International Central Office provides excellent resources to learn about SA as a fellowship, and our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Reading the literature gave us a sense that we were not alone, that others understood and could relate to our problem. We felt a sense of hope that there could be a solution for us too. The SA publications that are offered as a place to start are the following:
The basic text of SA: Sexaholics Anonymous, generally called “The White Book”
Sexaholics Anonymous is based on the principles and traditions of Alcholics Anonymous, as is alluded to in the name Sexaholics Anonymous. All Alcoholics Anonymous Literature is approved for use in SA meetings and most of us have found it highly illuminating for our own addiction.
Test Yourself Using the SA Sexual Addiction Test
This sexual addiction test is by no means a definitive or official test, it’s simply a tool in helping you decide whether or not you believe you are suffering from the disease of sexaholism.
Attending Your First Meeting
The idea of attending his or her first Sexaholics Anonymous meeting is almost always very intimidating to the newcomer. Often, we had preconceived notions about what to expect there: religious fanatics, “prudes” or stereotypical “low-lifes” who we wouldn’t want to associate with. Sometimes, we were convinced that we weren’t “that bad” and could just stay stopped if only we really gave it a good effort this time. We found ourselves repeating this cycle again and again. To our relief, we realized that, in SA, there were many people, just like us, who had tried, in futility, the same thing we had. But, now, they had found a practical solution to live sexually sober.
It is an enormous hurdle to overcome the shame, shock and discomfort that comes from bringing this topic to the light with others. We suggest attending at least six meetings in order to give yourself time to get a feel for whether SA is for you. What you can expect at an SA meeting is that you’re anonymity will be preserved, you won’t be forced to share or say anything, you won’t be given advice, and you won’t be asked to do anything other than participate as you see fit. You are free to come and go as you please. SA has no dees or fees for membership, no pledges to sign, no oathes to take. The only requirement for membership in SA and attending meetings is the desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober.
Seek a temporary sponsor
At meetings, we invite newcomers to ask for a temporary sponsor or the phone number of one or more other members, in order to help answer questions that the newcomer has and to guide them in this delicate stage. A sponsor is usually another member in SA who is in stable sobriety and has worked the 12 Steps of SA, or is further along in the process than we are. Ideally a sponsor is not a coach, therapist or task-master. A sponsor simply shares his or her experience, strength and hope with his or her sponsee in an effort to share how the SA program has worked in their own life. Temporary sponsorship has no definite term, but is usually expected to last 90 days, at which point both the sponsee and the sponsor can assess wether they would like to continue this connection. There is no commitment.
There is a solution though and through Sexaholics Anonymous countless individuals have found recover from their sexual addictions.
12 Step Fellowship
Sexaholics Anonymous was founded on the 12 steps and traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through hard work Sexaholics Anonymous began in the early 80s and has grown since then through strength, hope and the experience of addicts in recovery worldwide.
Here are the full 12 Steps and 12 Traditions to be aware of. How fast or how slow you go is entirely up to you. Some people go through all 12 steps in months while others take years. One step at a time…
Many of us felt inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid. Our insides never matched what we saw on the outsides of others.
Early on, we came to feel disconnected – from parents, from peers, from ourselves. We tuned out with fantasy and masturbation. We plugged in by drinking in the pictures, the images, and pursuing the objects of our fantasies. We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.
We became true addicts: sex with self, promiscuity, adultery, dependency relationships, and more fantasy. We got it through the eyes; we bought it, we sold it, we traded it, we gave it away. We were addicted to the intrigue, the tease, the forbidden. The only way we knew to be free of it was to do it. “Please connect with me and make me whole!” we cried with outstretched arms. Lust ing after the Big Fix we gave away our power to others.
This produced guilt, self-hatred, remorse, emptiness and pain, and we were driven ever inward, away from reality, away from love, lost inside ourselves.
Our habit made true intimacy impossible. We could never know real union with another because we were addicted to the unreal. We went for the “chemistry,” the connection that had the magic, because it bypassed intimacy and true union. Fantasy corrupted the real: lust killed love.
First addicts, then love cripples, we took from others to fill up what was lacking in ourselves. Conning ourselves time and time again that the next one would save us; we really were losing our lives.
We saw that our problem was threefold: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Healing had to come about in all three.
The crucial change in attitude began when we admitted we were powerless, that our habit had us whipped. We came to meetings and withdrew from our habit. For some this meant no sex with themselves or others, including not getting into relationships. For others it meant “drying out” and not having sex with the spouse for a time to recover from lust.
We discovered that we could stop, that not feeding the hunger didn’t kill us, that sex was indeed optional. There was hope for freedom and we began to feel alive. Encouraged to continue, we turned more and more away from our isolating obsession with sex and self and turned to God and others.
All this was scary. We couldn’t see the path ahead, except that others had gone before. Each new step of surrender felt it would be off the edge into oblivion, but we took it. And instead of killing us, surrender was killing the obsession! We had stepped into the light, into a whole new way of life.
The fellowship gave us monitoring and support to keep us from being overwhelmed, a safe haven where we could finally face ourselves. Instead of covering our feelings with compulsive sex, we began exposing the roots of our spiritual emptiness and hunger. And the healing began.
As we faced our defects, we became willing to change; surrendering them broke the power they had over us. We began to be more comfortable with ourselves and others for the first time without our “drug”.
Forgiving all who had injured us, and without injuring others, we tried to right our own wrongs. At each amends more of the dreadful load of guilt dropped from our shoulders, until we could look the world in the eye, and stand free.
We began practising a positive sobriety, taking the actions of love to improve our relations with others. We were learning how to give; and the measure we gave was the measure we got back. We were finding what none of the substitutes had ever supplied. We were making the real Connection. We were home.
The only requirement for membership in SA and attending meetings is the desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober. If you fit this description, we would be more than happy to welcome you in our meetings! Many of us didn’t know what to expect when we attended our first meeting. If you’re new to Sexaholics Anonymous, we suggest that you attend at list 6 meetings before making a decision as to whether it is right for you. There’s no need to share in a meeting so do not feel pressured. You can simply attend, listen to others and take it in. Only those desiring their own personal, sexual sobriety are welcome to attend meetings. So you will only find yourself around others who identify with having the same problem. Meetings are “closed” to the public, and what we say there, we let stay there. And, as with Alcoholics Anonymous, our anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, wherein your anonymity will be strictly kept. Our experience has also shown that peer support is of vital importance for relapse prevention and continued progress in recovery from sexual addiction.
Reminder: SA meetings are for sexaholics only. Family members and friends can find help in dealing with the effects of sexaholism in their lives in S-Anon.
Pick up the phone
Since we only have 6 meetings a week, we encourage members to pick up the “thousand pound telephone” and reach out to other members between meetings. This helps you stay sober. Ask other recovering addicts for their numbers and offer your own if you’re comfortable.
One day at a time
Recovery from sexual addiction is possible but most sexaholics can’t even comprehend the thought of years of sexual sobriety. We need to break it down and attempt to stay sober just for today, one day at a time.
Hit the books
Read the Sexaholics Anonymous literature. They explain SA’s 12-step recovery program and more.
- Sexaholics Anonymous (aka. the “White Book”)
Staying sober tips
Think of the specific situations which led to “acting out” (masturbation, affairs, prostitution, etc). Avoid those situations. I know it sounds much more simple then you feel it really is. These situations (ie. certain people, places or things) are your “triggers” which will pull you back into the addiction before you know it.
Call other SA members as often as needed, every day if that helps. Attend meetings. Read something, anything, everyday from the SA literature. Start working the steps with your sponsor. Don’t think too much though – it was our best thinking which got us where we are today!
Get a sponsor
Find an SA member who has much more sobriety than you do and who you feel comfortable with. Ask if they would be willing to be a sponsor. A great sponsor goes a very long way in helping you gain sobriety. They will listen and share their experience, strength and hope.
Recite the Serenity Prayer
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”