What is Sexaholics Anonymous?

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) is an unincorporated association of individuals and groups offering a Twelve Step recovery program to people who are addicted to lust, sex, dependency relationships and various forms of self-destructive sexual thinking and behaviour.

Sexaholics Anonymous is a relatively new Twelve Step fellowship.  SA received permission from Alcoholics Anonymous to use its Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in 1979.  The first regular Sexaholics Anonymous meeting was started in 1981 in the USA.  By 1997 there were 1200 SA groups in twelve countries around the world.  There are now active Sexaholics Anonymous fellowships in 59 countries worldwide.

What Is a Sexaholic & What Is Sexual Sobriety?

We can only speak for ourselves. The specialized nature of Sexaholics Anonymous can best be understood in terms of what we call the sexaholic. The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like that of the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and must stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with the sexaholic, or sex drunk, who can no longer tolerate lust but cannot stop.

Thus, for the sexaholic, any form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive. We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and true sobriety includes progressive victory over lust. These conclusions were forced upon us in the crucible of our experiences and recover; we have no other options. But we have found that acceptance of these facts is the key to a happy and joyous freedom we could otherwise never know.

This will and should discourage many inquirers who admit to sexual obsession or compulsion but who simply want to control and enjoy it, much as the alcoholic would like to control and enjoy drinking. Until we had been driven to the point of despair, until we really wanted to stop but could not, we did not give ourselves to this program of recovery. Sexaholics Anonymous is for those who know they have no other option but to stop, and their own enlightened self-interest must tell them this.

How is anonymity preserved?

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities (SA Tradition 12).  In meetings we use our first names only.  Our culture is that we do not share specifics about our profession, religious affiliation, or other personal details.  We focus on our primary purpose: to achieve sexual sobriety and to carry the message of recovery to the still suffering sexaholic.  Members are reminded at each meeting that “what we say here, let it stay here.”

The SA meeting is a safe place for everyone to be rigorously honest.

How does SA work with professionals?

SA has a tradition of co-operation rather than affiliation with the professional community.  SA’s Tradition 6 states: “an SA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the SA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”  And Tradition 8 ensures the non-professional nature of our fellowship: “Sexaholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

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.

Helping professionals interested in SA are encouraged to contact us right away!  We also suggest reading the following invitation from our local group: Outreach Letter To Helping Professionals.

Can people representing Sexaholics Anonymous advise on external committees and boards relating to sexual addiction?

SA’s Tradition 10 states that “SA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the Sexaholics Anonymous name ought never be drawn into public controversy”. There is nothing to stop an individual SA member expressing his or her personal opinions on an issue, but no one can speak for Sexaholics Anonymous.  In SA, our culture is that we can only speak for ourselves.  We share our personal experience, strength and hope; and we do not consider ourselves authorities with the final word on sexual addiction recovery.

Do men and women attend meetings?

Yes. Sexaholics Anonymous meetings are open to both men and women, married or single, gay or straight. Sometimes, in areas where SA is more developed, members have started “men’s” and “women’s” meetings, in addition to co-ed meetings. Please contact us if you have a preference.

Is Sexaholics Anonymous a religious organisation?

No. Sexaholics Anonymous has no religious affiliations. Although the recovery programme is “spiritual”, it is essentially practical. Sexaholics Anonymous members include: Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims. In fact almost every denomination.

What happens at a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting?

Generally meetings last 1-2 hours and are held in public places such as a church or local community building. Members gather, there is usually some kind of reading from literature or a guest speaker may tell his/her story. After that members 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. Tea & coffee is generally served before or after the meeting. Refer to our Getting Started guide.

How do people recover in Sexaholics Anonymous?

Sexaholics Anonymous recovery starts with stopping the particular sexual behaviour(s). After “getting sober” members follow a series of personal activities known as the Twelve Steps in order to recover. They are adapted from the original Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. These “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. Central to the programme is the idea of a “spiritual awakening” emphasising its practical value rather than its philosophical or metaphysical understanding.

There are no counsellors or therapists in Sexaholics Anonymous, members meet at regular “meetings” where people share their own experience, strength and hope in overcoming their addiction. Sexaholics Anonymous provides no vocational, legal, financial, psychiatric, medical or professional services.