12-Step Programs Focused on Sex, Love & Relationships

Although addiction can come in many different forms, many individuals don’t realize that these 12-step programs can extend to assisting individuals in recovering from sex, love and relationship problems. For many people suffering from problems associated with these aspects of their lives, it may seem like they have nowhere to turn. Fortunately, there are 12-step fellowships that utilize the 12-step format to help them recover from their addictions with sex, love and relationships.

Unlike other 12-step groups, these programs focus on changing attitudes and behaviors, rather than abstaining from substances, though some of these groups do require abstinence from certain sex and love related behaviors. Once individuals begin attending meetings relating to their disease, they are able to begin leading a healthy and happy life, all while making changes to form “normal” relationships with other people. Sex, love and relationship addiction is considered a family illness, so it affects everyone who is involved with the addict. By addressing the core issues that cause individuals to become sex, love and relationship addicts, many individuals are able to recover, instead of trying to “fix” themselves.

Each group has a unique focus for its members, but they all have a purpose and goal, allowing members to realize that they are not alone when it comes to these issues. With a strong support system, individuals are able to seek solutions for their problems today.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

In the 1970s, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous decided to form the organization Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, as a way to recover from sex and love addiction. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop acting out patterns of sex and love addiction.

Although the program does encourage sexual sobriety, the willingness to stop acting out in bottom-line addictive behaviors, it also focuses on finding the ability to develop healthy, committed relationships. Individuals in the program can identify their own behaviors that lead to a relapse or result in mental, physical and emotional stress. Though each member of the program may experience different behaviors, feelings and situations, they can still find some similarities within each others’ stories and start recovering from, what may seem like, a hopeless state of mind.

CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous

For CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous members, the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop living out a pattern of codependency to a sex and love addict. The program is open to anyone who has a sex and love addict in their life. In the fellowship, individuals are able to let go of feelings of betrayal and abandonment and stop seeing themselves as victims. Instead of trying to control and cure a sex and love addict, they learn how to focus on themselves and their own responsibilities.

Offering a safe place for individuals who have been affected by someone’s sexually addictive behaviors, CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous helps members evaluate their own attitudes and behaviors and helps them begin to find a new way of life.

Sex Addicts Anonymous

Sex Addicts Anonymous was founded in 1977 and welcomes anyone who has the desire to stop addictive sexual behavior. For many of these individuals, recovery was not possible with willpower and professional help alone. While there is no strict definition of abstinence in the program, members are able to identify for themselves what specific sexual behaviors they need to abstain from. Members can receive help from other members in the program to find what behaviors are addictive and what they may need to abstain from, but it is entirely up to them to make that decision.

In the program, members are encouraged to make a three-circle diagram to help choose what behaviors are harmful and unacceptable; what behaviors lead to acting out; and what behaviors are positive and can enhance their recovery.

Sexaholics Anonymous

The program of Sexaholics Anonymous was founded as a self-help group available for anyone who has the desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober. Before joining the fellowship, many of these individuals that identify as sexaholics are unable to control themselves and do not have the freedom to stop, as lusting has become an addiction for them. In most cases, sex with anyone, including themselves, is addictive and progressively becomes more and more destructive.

Achieving sobriety in the program is different for every member. For married individuals, it is having no form of sex with anyone other than their spouse. For an unmarried individual, sexual sobriety is freedom from sex of any kind. All individuals in the program, over time, can find recovery over their addiction to lust.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous

When the program of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous was originally formed, its goal was to target sexual compulsion amongst gay and bisexual men, but since then, the program has adapted and allowed members of any sexual orientation to recover from sexual compulsion. This disease can affect individuals physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Like any other addiction, sexual compulsion can cause a “high” in contemplating and engaging in these behaviors, followed by an emotional letdown.

While the program does emphasize creating a recovery plan to help members abstain from high-risk behaviors, bottom-line behaviors and find what behaviors can support their recovery. Although sobriety is the goal, each member should develop their own definition of sobriety that does not place unreasonable demands on themselves.

Sexual Recovery Anonymous

Like some of the other 12-step programs related to sexual compulsion, Sexual Recovery Anonymous was formed to help individuals recover from sexual addiction. The only requirement for membership to Sexual Recovery Anonymous is the desire to stop compulsive sexual behavior.

In the program, individuals can find a diverse group of people to help offer them solutions and tools of recovery for addressing their problem with compulsive sexual behavior. Sexual sobriety in the program is the end goal for many members, which is defined as the release from any sexual behaviors that are compulsive or destructive. These behaviors can also include masturbation and having sexual relations outside of a committed relationship.

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