“Engagement in a 12-Step Fellowship is a vital part of a comprehensive recovery program. We recommend it to all of our clients.”
Ginny Mosby, LMFT, CSAT-S
Community Presbyterian Counseling Center
“Those who are struggling with compulsive sexual behavior often need more support than one therapist can provide. SAA is a fellowship of others who “get it”and can walk alongside your clients, even on a daily basis if necessary. It is an important supplement to therapy.”
Joan Edwards Kay, LMFT
What is Sex Addiction?
Sex Addiction can involve a wide variety of practices. Sometimes an addict has trouble with just one unwanted behavior, sometimes with many. A large number of sex addicts say their unhealthy use of sex has been a progressive process. It may have started with an addiction to masturbation, pornography (either printed or electronic), or a relationship, but over the years progressed to increasingly dangerous behaviors.
The essence of all addiction is the addicts’ experience of powerlessness over a compulsive behavior, resulting in their lives becoming unmanageable. The addict is out of control and experiences tremendous shame, pain and self-loathing. The addict may wish to stop — yet repeatedly fails to do so. The unmanageability of addicts’ lives can be seen in the consequences they suffer: losing relationships, difficulties with work, arrests, financial troubles, a loss of interest in things not sexual, low self-esteem and despair. Sexual preoccupation takes up tremendous amounts of energy. As this increases for the sex addict, a pattern of behavior (or rituals) follows, which usually leads to acting out (for some it is flirting, searching the net for pornography, or driving to the park.) When the acting out happens, there is a denial of feelings usually followed by despair and shame or a feeling of hopelessness and confusion.
Introducing Sex Addicts Anonymous to the Professional Community
Do you have patients or clients who cannot control their problematic sexual behavior despite negative consequences? Sex Addicts Anonymous can help.
Sex Addicts Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that they may find freedom from addictive sexual behavior and help others recover from sexual addiction. SAA was founded in 1977 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today SAA is an international society with meetings in many countries.
Examples of Problematic Sexual Behavior
In our experience, no single behavior defines sex addiction. One common characteristic is that when we tried to stop or moderate our problematic sexual behaviors, we found we could not. Sex addiction can include any number of chronic or compulsive behaviors such as:
- Sexual/romantic obsession
- Pornography addiction/cybersex
- Destructive or serial relationships
- Sexual avoidance/anorexia
- Risky, anonymous or illegal sexual activity
Consequences of Sex Addiction
Left untreated, sex addiction often leads to painful consequences such as:
- Divorce/family breakups
- Financial stress/ruin
- Job/career loss
- Loss of freedom/incarceration
- Risk to life/health (Suicide, STIs, Homicide)
The mental anguish of sex addiction can be just as severe and can include:
- Depression, despair, loneliness
- Guilt, shame, remorse
- Fear, anxiety, hopelessness
Common Client Questions
How do I start?
Go to a meeting. Meetings will give you the opportunity to hear about our addiction and recovery from others who have had similar experiences. It will seem like they are telling your story! You will hear how the program works. By attending your first meeting, you take the crucial step towards moving away from isolation into fellowship, and ultimately into recovery. For many of us, our first meeting was a freeing experience. We recommend you attend at least 6 meetings before you make up your mind if you if you want what we have.
How does SAA work?
The basic premise of SAA is that addicts can help each other recover from sexual addiction. The core of the SAA program is the Twelve Steps, a set of guidelines that can help addicts achieve recovery. By following these guidelines and working closely with other addicts, those seeking recovery learn to face life in a sexually sober manner. The steps can also help addicts recover from the damaging beliefs and attitudes underlying their sex addiction.
Why is SAA anonymous?
Anonymity is one of the guiding principles of the SAA program. Anonymity allows addicts to attend meetings without fear of their identity being disclosed. Confidence that their anonymity will be respected can help an addict feel safe attending meetings.
Can anyone be an SAA member?
Membership is open to anyone with a desire to stop their addictive sexual behavior. There is no other requirement. Our fellowship is open to all genders, regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, marital status, or occupation. We welcome members of any sexual identity or orientation.
What are SAA meetings?
Meetings are the heart of the SAA fellowship where our primary approach to recovery – addicts helping addicts – takes place. Most SAA meetings are held at the same time and place each week, in a public facility or online, and are led by the members. A list of SAA meetings can be found at: https://www.bayareasaa.org/meetings
Is SAA a Religious Organization?
Sex Addicts Anonymous is not aligned with any sect, denomination, or dogma. The Twelve-Step program of recovery is considered spiritual in nature because the program leads to inner change and involves surrender to a power greater than ourselves. Our program includes religious and non-religious members. Everyone is welcome.
What SAA Offers to Its Members
- Acceptance and support – Members receive acceptance and understanding of their problems from people who have experienced the same or similar issues. This supportive community offers the kind of help and encouragement needed to initiate and sustain recovery.
- Recovery tools – The SAA Twelve-Step program provides the tools, guidance, and accountability needed to recover from sex addiction.
- Hope – SAA offers hope of a new way of life—free from compulsive sexual behavior.
SAA offers daily support and accountability for clients between professional appointments. Our program has helped many people recover from a wide range of problematic sexual behaviors. As a result, many professionals refer their clients to SAA as a complement to professional treatment.
What SAA Does Not Do
SAA is not therapy or treatment, has no opinion on the subject, and does not diagnose any medical or psychological conditions. All participation is voluntary. SAA does not pressure or solicit people to attend. SAA offers no clinical, scientific, or professional expertise. We do not participate in research or keep any records or case studies. We are not allied or affiliated with any outside organization or cause, although SAA members, groups, and special workers in our international service office frequently cooperate with them. SAA does not compete with anyone. We make no claims of effectiveness.
Free Resources for the Professional Community
Sex Addicts Anonymous is happy to cooperate with professionals. SAA provides free and confidential resources for you as well as for your clients. Resources available for you as a professional include:
- Free email subscription to our quarterly newsletter “Out of the Fog”
- Free email subscription to our International Service Organization’s bi-monthly newsletter “The Outer Circle”
- Client referral packets (collection of basic pamphlets and a welcome letter from SAA to the newcomer, customized for your local area)
- List of SAA members willing to talk to your clients
- SAA speakers and informational presentations at your facility
- Open meetings (meetings that you, your colleagues, and other non-sex addicts are welcome to attend)
- Exhibitors and/or speakers for professional conferences
- SAA literature
1SAA is not therapy or treatment and has no opinion on outside issues, such as therapy, religion, or politics. SAA is not affiliated with any outside organization or cause. Neither does SAA endorse or finance outside organizations or causes. SAA does not compete with anyone. We offer no clinical, scientific, or professional expertise. Our unique contribution is to share from our own personal experience of recovery from sex addiction using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of SAA.