Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA)

What is Sex Addicts Anonymous?

The fellowship of Sex Addicts Anonymous is a 12-step recovery program for individuals who suffer from sex addiction. Anyone is welcome to attend meetings as long as they have the desire to stop their addictive sexual behaviors. The program is intended for individuals of any sexual orientation, race, age, ethnic background, religion, occupation and more. Although the program has no affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous, it utilizes the same 12-step format and principles of recovery, as they have been successful in other self-help groups and made recovery possible for addicts of all kinds.

There is not much known about the history of Sex Addicts Anonymous. The organization was started sometime in 1977 by several men, who had attended self-help groups but did not feel the sense of anonymity that the rooms of 12-step recovery programs offered. A lot of the literature for Sex Addicts Anonymous, including “Sex Addicts Anonymous,” “Sex Addicts Anonymous – Pathway to Recovery,” and “Abstinence,” is available online to view and purchase. A digital newsletter, titled “The Outer Circle,” is also available on the official website, dating back to a copy from 1989.

How does Sex Addicts Anonymous work?

One of the most notable tools of recovery that can be found solely in Sex Addicts Anonymous is the three-circle method to model their behaviors. In the three ring circle, there is an inner circle, an outer circle and a middle circle. The inner circle begins with the compulsive behaviors that are to be avoided, such as sex with prostitutes or nonconsenting individuals. The outer circle includes sexual and nonsexual behaviors that are healthy, such as sex with partners or spouses. The middle circle includes behaviors that are not acted upon but could result in a relapse, such as hanging out with old partners or looking for a prostitute.

One of the reasons Sex Addicts Anonymous is so helpful for individuals is because they are responsible for creating their own personalized list of compulsive sexual behaviors, allowing them to obtain “sobriety” in their own way. Each member of the program is respectful of whatever the individual is recovering from and there is never any judgement from existing members. All individuals of the program attend meetings to achieve the same goal: the desire to stop addictive sexual behavior.

In meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous, members can find a safe, nonthreatening environment to share their common problems and try to find solutions from other members in the rooms. For many of these individuals, there was nowhere left for them to go and discuss some of these issues that left them feeling hopeless and lost. Sex Addicts Anonymous provided a place for them to talk freely, openly and honestly about their addiction and begin finding the tools to recover from their compulsive sexual behaviors. Members also have the option to choose what types of meetings they want to attend. If at all a preference, men are able to attend men-only meetings and women are able to attend women-only meetings.

Attending meetings and reading the literature are several ways members are able to begin abstaining from their mental addiction to sex and compulsive sexual behaviors. Another suggestion for new members is to obtain a sponsor in the program. A sponsor is an individual who has longtime sexual sobriety, has worked the 12 steps or is actively working them, and has tools of recovery to share with others who are working the steps. Newcomers are encouraged to listen to other members’ stories and decide if they can relate to the individual who they want as their sponsor. Sponsors can recommend suggestions, such as which meetings to attend and which literature to begin reading first. Sponsors can also provide more information about the program, answer any questions and be available to potentially help in troublesome situations. While sponsors are not doctors or therapists, they do their best to share solutions and suggestions based on what they have experienced and learned.

Why is Sex Addicts Anonymous effective?

One of the reasons that Sex Addicts Anonymous is so effective for its members is because of the 12-step recovery process used. Sex addiction is a mental illness; it is a disease that will progressively get worse over time and the consequences will continue to become more severe until the problems are addressed. Members must accept that they will never be perfect or cure themselves of sex addiction, but rather be able to find happiness and serenity and arrest their addiction.

As members continue attending meetings and working the steps, their serenity and sobriety in the program will grow. Members will begin Finding new ways to cope with stress and emotional problems, rebuild friends and relationships that were pushed aside because of their addiction, and see an increase in their self esteem and moral values. Before joining the fellowship, many members felt these destructive behaviors and negative feelings defined them and kept them alive, while that isn’t the case.

The program of Sex Addicts Anonymous gives members freedom from their addiction and obsession with sex, the chance to surrender their defects, and become less fearful and happier with their lives. Because the urge of compulsion can be much stronger than the will to resist, willpower alone is not enough to arrest this disease. Sex Addicts Anonymous gives members the tools and solutions they need to manage their addiction.

Does the program cost money?

There are no dues, fees or costs to join the fellowship of Sex Addicts Anonymous. The group is self-supporting through their own contributions and never accepts outside donations of any kind. The only requirement for members to join the program is the desire to stop sexually addictive behavior. For members wanting to contribute, they are able to do so at meetings, but it is never a requirement. Members are encouraged to give what they can, when they can.

Is the program religious?

The fellowship of Sex Addicts Anonymous is not a religious program, it is a spiritual one. It is up to each individual to choose their own concept of a higher power to help them increase their spiritual awareness and help them overcome the challenges and obstacles they may face in sobriety. A higher power can not only help members recover from sex addiction, but it can be used in their daily lives and activities as well.

Where can I find a meeting?

While there are still face-to-face meetings available, many Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings have been switched to virtual options. There is a meeting directory available on the official website, which allows individuals to find a time and day that is convenient for them. Each meeting available has details beside it, such as whether it is an open meeting, a men or women only meeting, or whether or not it requires a contact prior to attendance. The list of meetings can be found here.

How do I know if I am a sex addict?

Identifying a problem with sex addiction or compulsive sexual behavior can only be done by each individual. Before attending meetings, newcomers can decide for themselves whether or not they feel like Sex Addicts Anonymous is the place for them. If individuals answer “yes” to at least one question on the list, the fellowship recommends that they attend a meeting or possibly read more on sex addiction to help them make a decision.

  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual behavior or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
  2. Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose?
  3. Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?
  4. Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment?
  5. Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?
  6. Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
  7. Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems?
  8. Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey?
  9. Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease?
  10. Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?
  11. Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life – even when you do not act out your fantasies?
  12. Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally?
Scroll to Top