Sexaholics Anonymous? Is that for real? Yes, it is-and there are chapters throughout the U.S. and around the world. Sex addiction is a real problem, and SA is a place where addicts can find help.
Sexaholics Anonymous defines a sex addict as someone who "has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop." Sex addicts feel lust the way drug addicts feel a craving for their drug.
The group is not a place for people who are simply sexually promiscuous. According to their literature, there is a difference between the person who wishes to continue being promiscuous without being controlled by it and the person who realizes that he or she has developed a problem that must be stopped.
What's Behind the Addiction
According to Sexaholics Anonymous, for many people the addiction stems from feelings of insecurity or inadequacy. The "high" of a sexual encounter-or, for some, simply masturbation-brings a temporary feeling of connection or power, but in the end leaves the addict feeling guilty, remorseful, and empty.
The group believes that unhealthy sexual encounters based on lust, fantasy, or dependency reinforce the addict's problems and can actually cripple his or her ability to have intimate relationships.
SA tries to help members uncover the reason for their sex addiction, learn to cope with their underlying problems, and approach sex in a healthier way. There is a strong emphasis on monogamy.
The approach includes helping addicts to be comfortable with themselves and others, make amends with those they've hurt, forgive those who have hurt them, and learn to give and receive love.
Like other recovery programs, Sexaholics Anonymous uses twelve steps to guide members. They are adapted, with permission, from the Alcoholics Anonymous steps, although the groups are not affiliated. Members are expected to complete each step as part of the recovery process.
Specifics About Sexaholics Anonymous
Membership is free. Meeting have no professional leaders. Anyone who admits to having a sex addiction and states a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober may become a member. They may remain anonymous if they wish. "Sponsors," people who are recovering with the group's help, assist new members. Small donations to help keep the group running are requested but not required.
SA may not be for everyone. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, their second step requires "believing that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." References to turning one's life over to God occur several times. Also, SA asks members to refrain from any sex, except perhaps with a spouse, during recovery. And, they specifically state that they define spouse as the opposite-sex partner in a marriage between a man and a woman.
Some Tools for Overcoming Lust
SA suggests the following tools to help its members overcome their addiction:
- Honesty. Members are asked to share the truth about their actions with other members and with the important people in their lives.
- Avoiding triggers. Members are encouraged to think about the things that trigger their lust. This may include watching movies, looking at photos in magazines, browsing the Internet, or going to certain places. Once triggers are identified, they should be avoided while the person is working on recovery.
- Prayer. SA suggests some simple prayers, such as asking God to bless the person the member is lusting after.
- Sponsorship. A sponsor, who may still be in recovery and in fact have a sponsor of his or her own, can help a member stay on track.
Are You a Sex Addict?
You can find a 20-question test at the Sexaholics Anonymous web site. Questions include:
- Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
- That you'd be better off if you didn't keep "giving in"?
- That sex or related stimuli are controlling you?
- Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?
- Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can't cope?
Meeting locations are listed on the SA web site. As a general rule, only people who are genuinely interested in seeking help are welcome at the meetings. Others, including therapists, students, family members, and members of the media, should call the local office for information. Some groups will arrange meeting with members who have volunteered to answer questions about sex addiction and about SA.