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How to Choose a Support Group For Your Sex Addiction

iStock_000004431829_LargeWhen it comes to finding 12 step-fellowships for support, it usually is pretty straightforward. If you struggle with alcoholism, AA is the choice for you. OA is for overeaters and GA is for the gambler addicts out there. However, when it comes to sex addiction, there seem to be a plethora of choices: SA, SAA, SLAA, SRA, and  SCA? What’s a person with sex addiction to do?

Sex addiction is already confusing and complicated enough. Even the American Psychological Association has yet to include it in their manual. Still, for those who struggle with sex addiction, it is far from a made-up manner. It can be life altering and cause dysfunction in their relationships.

Those seeking help for sexual addiction will find that they run into five independent programs to sort through. It can be difficult to determine which group serves you best. However, through understanding what your actual problem is and understanding what each group stands for, you can find the perfect group to match your needs.

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) – This group is known to be the most rigid and conservative of all the fellowships. The founder, Roy K was a religious man from New York, and many of the members of SA identify with some form of religion like Orthodox Jew or Roman Catholic. Serious sexual issues like pedophilia or continuous patronage of prostitutes are top concerns. The website defines SA as a fellowship of men and woman who help each other solve their common problem of sexuality.

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober. Sexual sobriety is defined as a “progressive victory over lust.” Therefore, SA states that sexual sobriety is refraining from all sex other than with a spouse.  The groups make sure to note that “any form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive.” It also notes that anyone looking to just control and maintain their sexual desires should be deterred from joining based on these definitions.

Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA) SRA is the more progressive version of SA. SRA broke away from SA because SA was unwilling to mold to less traditional ideas of what it meant to be sexually sober. While many members still subscribe to more conventional ideas of marriage and family, it is far more diverse. There is a strong presence of women, minorities and members of the LGBT community welcome in these groups.  The only requirement for SRA is a desire to “stop compulsive sexual behavior.” The website states that sobriety is “the release from all compulsive and destructive sexual behaviors” and explains that sobriety typically means “freedom from masturbation and sex outside a mutually committed relationship.” Compared to SA, which only allows sex with a spouse, groups like SRA tend to be more open to different moral vaules.

“We believe that spirituality and self-love are antidotes to the addiction. We are walking towards a healthy sexuality,” SRA states.

The work of Patrick Carnes is held in high regard. Carnes is often considered to be the authority on sex addiction. He put sex addiction on the map with his highly renowned book publications most notable Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1983.)

Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA)-  This fellowship states its purpose is to offer a message of hope to anyone who suffers from sex addiction.  SAA is renowned for its Green Book. A stand-out feature of SAA is the importance of the “three circles” concept which members are encouraged to use as a tool to maintain sobriety.

  1. The Inner Circle: All bottom line behaviors that characterize a person’s sex addiction such as infidelity, masturbation, exhibitionism, rape, and others. These behaviors are to be avoided.
  2. The Middle Circle: All actions considered gray areas which are to be monitored by a sponsor. Examples would be fantasy, euphoric recall, preoccupation or any provocative images. The work “intrigue” is defined as lusting, flirting or taking a sexual interest in someone.
  3. The Outer Circle: All behaviors considered “top line” These activities affirm a happy, healthy life.

Elements of the three circles are designed to be identified and defined by each member, so they have a program tailored to them

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA): For those who still feel like the above groups listed are too much, SLAA may be the answer. Perhaps you fall in love with the wrong people or have trouble controlling how much porn you watch. Issues like these and others may be addressed for some in SLAA groups.  SLAA allows members to define their own sobriety. A room full of members will support you in your efforts; however you choose to define what that means to you. For example, someone who struggles with porn addiction may refrain from porn but still drink and engage in more open relationships. Each person defines what behavior they find to be the most destructive.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA):  SCA states their only requirement for membership is the “desire to stop having compulsive sex.” It is inclusive of all types of people and orientations. Their primary purpose is to help others achieve sexual sobriety. Members are encouraged to develop their own personal sexual recovery plans. Like in SLAA, each member is to define what sexual sobriety means to them. The website goes over resources and tools to help anyone struggling with sexual compulsiveness.  Resources help members know what to do if they slip and how to manage through sexual withdrawals.

There you have it. Hopefully, this list can get you on the right track to getting the support you need in your journey over overcome your addiction. Can’t decide? Try going to them all. You never know how a group in your area is run, and you might find you connect with a particular group more than you ever could have expected.

More importantly, if your addiction is becoming unmanageable, you may need more intensive help that far exceeds a fellowship group. Sometimes treatment is the best answer to start your journey of sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva


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