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: often involving 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 sex addicts think they are the only ones struggling with this problem, or at least that they have a unique problem, worse than anyone else.
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: stereotypical “low-lifes”, “prudes” or religious fanatics 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 dues 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.
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:
Sexaholics Anonymous – the basic text of SA, generally called “The White Book”
SA To The Newcomer – pamphlet
Why Stop Lusting? – pamphlet
Sexaholics Anonymous is based on the principles and traditions of Alcoholics 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. We encourage members to read the seminal text for 12-Step recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as the supplemental AA text, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.
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.
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. Sponsors work alongside sponsees to guide them through the 12 Steps of SA. We recommend that newcomers find an SA member who has more sobriety than they do and who they feel comfortable with and ask if they would be willing to be their temporary sponsor. A great sponsor goes a very long way in helping you gain sobriety! 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.
The 12 Steps of Sexaholics Anonymous
Countless sexaholics have found sustained freedom from the tyranny of sexaholism, by working the 12 Steps of SA with an SA sponsor.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves..
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs..
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character..
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings..
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all..
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others..
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it..
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out..
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other sexaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
There is no right or wrong way to work the Steps. Each of us has had a unique experience of sexual addiction, with a unique history and a unique personality. By seeking help and asking a sponsor to help guide us through the 12 Steps, however the Spirit leads us, we let God work to remove the obsession of lust and to free us from entrapment in our addiction. Some people go through all 12 steps rapidly in a month or less, while others take years. SA does not impose uniformity; and every member is free to pursue his or her recovery as they are led. One thing that we agree upon, however, is that, for us, working the 12 Steps of SA does work.
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.
Remember, Easy Does It!
The collective wisdom of 12-Step program has given us great wisdom to live by in our approach to recovery.
Easy Does It: We didn’t become addicted in one day, and so we can’t expect to be perfectly recovered in one day either. We love ourselves and one another by being patient.
One Day At a Time: Often the hurdles we face in recovery seem overwhelming to face, especially when we project our uncomfortable feelings far into the future. For most of us, in early recovery, the thought of years of sexual sobriety seemed inconceivable. Those that have come before us remind us that we just need to stay sober today. All we have the power to work on is today. And many of us have witnessed seemingly impossible situations resolve themselves as we focus on what is in front of each us, just for today.
Just Do The Next Right Thing: Many of us stumble on the footsteps right in front of us, because we are so focused on our long-sighted concerns about the future. The highest mountain top is hiked by following the path ahead of us, not by focusing on the peak. Often the next right thing can be as simple as calling another member or attending an SA meeting to get out of our own head.
Keep Coming Back: It is easy to become discouraged when we repeatedly fail, fall short of our expectations, or make mistakes. The program reminds us to keep coming back, because, through perseverance, we won’t sell ourselves short of the miracle of recovery.
It Works If We Work It: The SA program works for us, when we invest time and energy into the program of recovery. The program isn’t just showing up to meetings or just connecting socially with other members. Although that is critical, we have found that we also need to work the steps, to have and use a sponsor, and to be of service to our fellow sexaholic to experience the miracle of recovery.