Sex Addiction Definitions and 12-Step Resources Guide
By Sharon O'Hara, LMFT
|So how might you tell if your compulsive sexual behavior is really a problem?
The basic definition is as follows: You may be a sex addict if you are engaging in one or more repetitive sexual behaviors which interfere with healthy living and result in significant stress to both you and your partner or other family members.
Or see if you can answer yes to more than one of the following questions:
you say, so maybe I have a problem. I might even be willing to go to a
sex addict 12-Step meeting. But why are there are so many different
meetings, and how do I find out: Which 12-Step groups might be the best
for me (or my partner)?
explains why we now have 5 separate 12-Step group programs for sex
addicts (SA, SAA, SLAA, SCA, SRA). There are 3 organizations for
partners of sex addicts (S-Anon, COSA, Co-SLAA), two for couples (RCA,
SA-Couples), and one for sex workers, all with different meeting lists.
The following is a guide for making your way through the thicket of
SA—Sexaholics Anonymous (Website: www.sa.org).
This 12-Step program is the strictest in its definition of sexual
sobriety. Masturbation is discouraged, as is homosexual sex. Sobriety
is defined as "No sexual behavior outside of a committed marital
relationship between a man and a woman." Members are primarily
heterosexual men, along with some heterosexual women. Sexual offenders
often discover that the strict boundaries of SA are helpful for their
SAA--Sex Addicts Anonymous (www.sexaa.org).
This program is open to both heterosexual and homosexual men and women
who want to learn to abstain from self-defined "bottom-line behaviors"
such as compulsive Internet sex, use of prostitutes, massage parlors,
and the like. Masturbation is optional, as SAA members are encouraged
to develop their own abstinence plan with feedback from sponsors and
The 12-Step partner program for SAA is COSA (Codependents of Sex Addicts). The National contact number for COSA is 763-537-6904. Or write to:
SLAA—Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (www.slaafws.org).
This program is similar to SAA in that both heterosexual and homosexual
men and women are welcome to attend. More women tend to attend SLAA
because of the emphasis on "love addiction," defined as a pattern of
painful or obsessive romantic relationships. Members are encouraged to
set appropriate behavioral boundaries with the help of sponsors and
group members. This program is helpful for both sex addicts and those
who consistently involve themselves in abusive, non-nurturing
SLAA National Organization: 781-255-8825
SCA—Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (www.sca-recovery.org).
This 12-Step program is primarily attended by gay and bisexual men and
some women. In a fashion similar to SAA and SLAA, SCA members develop
their own sexual abstinence plans, with group support and guidance from
sponsors. There is no formal partners program connected to SCA. SCA
meetings are most commonly found in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.
SRA—Sexual Recovery Anonymous (www.sexualrecovery.org).
This 12-Step program began in Canada during the last decade and from
there became popular in the New York area and elsewhere. SRA has a
strict definition of abstinence for sex addicts (no masturbation),
which is similar to Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). However, SRA is
considered to be much more "gay-friendly" than SA, and defines healthy
sex as that which occurs between committed partners who are abstaining
from self-destructive sexual patterns.
SRA National Organization: 212-340-4650
SRA for partners has some meetings in the New York Area (http://sexualrecovery.org/sra-anon.htm).
RCA—Recovering Couples Anonymous (www.recovering-couples.org).
Both members of a couple attend these 12-Step meetings. Both
heterosexual and homosexual couples are welcome: "The only requirement
for membership is that you are a couple seeking to restore a caring,
committed and intimate relationship.
SA for Couples.
Similar to RCA, with an emphasis on heterosexual couples healing from
their intimacy struggles in accordance with the more strict SA sexual
guidelines. Contact S-ANON in your local area for possible meetings,
especially in Los Angeles and in Tennessee/Georgia.
blessings to you and your family members as you investigate these
resources. Please let us know if you discover that any of these contact
numbers have changed. For therapist resources, a good way to start
looking is through the membership list published at the web site of The
National Council on Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity (NCSAC): www.ncsac.org.