What is Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous?
The organization of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is a 12-step recovery program for individuals who want to stop living out patterns of sex and love addiction. Although the group is not directly affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, it utilizes the same 12 step and 12 tradition format for their fellowship, as these have proven to be extremely successful for other self-help groups. While there isn’t much known about the history of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, it was founded in 1976 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Sex and love addiction can affect anyone, so anyone who has the desire to stop engaging in these patterns can attend meetings. Although setting healthy boundaries in relationships can be difficult for almost everyone, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is intended for individuals who are seeing the extreme side of this problem. Some characteristics of sex and love addiction can include returning to painful relationships, fear of commitment, or using sex or emotions to manipulate others.
How does SLAA work?
The program focuses on the 12-step recovery process so that members can begin making positive changes in their lives. As members begin attending meetings, the fellowship emphasizes the idea that complete honesty is crucial to their recovery. Being honest about their problems and behaviors is the only way to successfully work the program. One of the ways that attending meetings helps members recover is by forcing them out of isolation. In sex and love addiction, isolation is detrimental to the recovery process and can cause members to get lost in their own heads, obsess over issues, and get lost in their own self pity. Instead, by attending meetings, they are able to begin taking care of themselves, admit their wrongdoings and learn to love themselves.
When it comes to the recovery process, it is up to each individual to begin identifying what their issues are, as they can be different for everyone. While some members have trouble with codependency, others can be struggling with sexual anorexia: the avoidance of giving or receiving social, sexual or emotional nourishment. In Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, individuals are able to define the terms of their own recovery, where they can start replacing old, destructive behaviors with new ones. These behaviors can be found in various different forms.
Another important part of the program is to obtain a sponsor. A sponsor in Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is a longtime member of the program who has been “sober” and has worked the steps or is actively working them. In the fellowship, sobriety is defined as the willingness to stop acting out on bottom-line addictive behaviors. Although sponsors are not doctors or therapists, they are available to answer questions about the program and provide suggestions that worked for them while they began their journey through recovery.
Another way a sponsor is helpful is because they can help define the terms of recovery for newcomers. For example, setting up the bottom-line behaviors that need to be avoided to ensure sobriety, as well as what will need to change to switch negative patterns to healthier decision making. Sponsors can also recommend what literature to begin reading first, which can include the “S.L.A.A Basic Text,” “The Gift of No Contact,” “A State of Grace: Daily Meditations,” and more. “The Journal,” the fellowship’s magazine, is also similar to a meeting in print for members to read on their own time.
Why is SLAA effective?
Sex and love addiction is a disease, just as any other mental illness, and it will only progressively get worse until destructive behaviors are addressed. This disease cannot be overcome by willpower alone. Although many individuals were living in isolation and hiding their guilt, shame and trust issues from others, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous offers a safe environment for individuals to speak freely and never feel judged. Members are encouraged to share their experiences and struggles when they feel comfortable enough to and are never forced to share anything they don’t want to.
One of the reasons the fellowship is so beneficial is because it is important for sex and love addicts to know that they are never alone. The disease can force individuals to keep secrets, which only makes them sicker. Before attending meetings, many of these individuals felt like there was nowhere left to turn until they realized that there were other people like them, who shared similar stories and experiences. In the fellowship, members can begin building a strong support system, which may have seemed impossible to do outside of the program. After they begin to attend meetings regularly and work the steps of the program, members will begin to see positive changes in their lives. They will start taking responsibility for their own lives, take care of themselves before getting involved with others, and continue being honest in their everyday lives.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous FAQs
There are no costs, fees or dues for membership to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction. Because the group is fully self-supporting, they do not accept outside contributions of any kind. Instead, members are encouraged to contribute what they can, when they can, but it is never a requirement.
There are still face-to-face meetings available for existing members and newcomers which can be found in the local directory on the official website. For members who are unable to physically attend a meeting, online meetings and telephone meetings are also available at this time. If individuals are unable to find any meetings or attend any virtual meetings, there is information that can help them begin recovery without meetings, which can all be found here.
It is not up to the members or program of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous to diagnose individuals with this addiction; it is completely up to them to admit whether ot not they have a problem. Although each individual can engage in varying destructive behaviors, the official questionnaire has been effective in helping members diagnose their own sex and love addiction. The questionnaire can be found here.
Although everyone is unique in the program in their own way, many of the members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous share many similarities and characteristics. There are 12 common characteristics that can help members identify if they are struggling with sex and love addiction.
1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing care, and support.
7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.