[Sex Addicts Anonymous pgs 1-2]
- Sex Addicts Anonymous is a fellowship of people 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.
- Our primary purpose is to stop our addictive sexual behavior and to help others recover from sexual addiction. We find a new way of living through the SAA program and carry our message to others seeking recovery.
- Membership is open to all who have a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior. There is no other requirement.
- In our groups, there is a collective wisdom that has grown and been handed down over the years. We learn many new solutions to old problems. Central to these are the Twelve Steps, a spiritual program of recovery. Following these steps leads to freedom from addictive sexual behaviors and to the healing of our minds, bodies, spirits, relationships, and sexuality.
- Desperation brought us together. We found in each other what we could find nowhere else: people who knew the depth of our pain. Together we found hope and the care of a loving Higher Power. Our commitment is to help others recover from sexual addiction, just as we have been helped.
- We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behavior - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other sex addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.
These steps are the heart of our program. They contain a depth that we could hardly have guessed when we started. Over time, we establish a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, each of us coming to an understanding of a Higher Power that is personal for us. Although the steps use the word “God” to indicate this power, SAA is not affiliated with any religion, creed, or dogma. The program offers a spiritual solution to our addiction, without requiring adherence to any specific set of beliefs or practices. The path is wide enough for everyone who wishes to walk it.
[Sex Addicts Anonymous, p.76-77]
Just as the Steps teach us the spiritual principles necessary for healthy individual recovery, the Traditions embody the spiritual principles necessary for the healthy functioning of our groups. Adhering to these principles safeguards our fellowship, thus protecting the recovery of each individual member. We have found that they also help us to act with integrity in our personal relationships and as responsible members of society.
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon S.A.A. unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for S.A.A. membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or S.A.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the sex addict who still suffers.
- An S.A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the S.A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every S.A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- S.A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the S.A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, and films.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Practicing these principles in our lives means applying program principles at home, at work, and wherever else we gather with others for a common purpose. As we grow spiritually, we find opportunities for service in virtually any situation. Our closest relationships may offer the most challenges to our honesty, compassion, and integrity, but we are often rewarded beyond our expectations. We find that spiritual principles can guide us in the everyday challenges of life, and they can help us face even loss, grief, and death with fortitude and grace. What we gain in this program is a blueprint for full and successful living, whatever may come.
We maintain our recovery by working a daily program, in the knowledge that although we can never be perfect, we can be happy today. We can live life on life’s terms, without having to change or suppress our feelings. Our serenity and sobriety grow as we continue to live according to spiritual principles. We enjoy the gifts that come from being honest and living a life of integrity. We ask for help when we need it, and we express our love and gratitude every day.
We realize that everything we have been through helps us to be of service to others. We learn that the world is a much safer place than we had ever known before, because we are always in the care of a loving God.
[Sex Addicts Anonymous, pgs. 99-100, paragraphs 3&4]
In our experience, though meetings are important, they are not sufficient for recovery from sex addiction. We need the spiritual solution offered by the Twelve Steps. To be sure, meetings are where most of us first encounter the steps, learn about the program, find our sponsors, and share with others our desire for recovery. But if we want to actually experience recovery in our lives, there are no shortcuts. We have to work the steps to experience the fruits of working the steps.
The steps are the spiritual solution to our addiction-leading not only to a life of abstinence from our addictive sexual behaviors, but to a fulfilling life of service to our brothers and sisters in recovery and beyond. The spiritual awakening described in Step Twelve puts us on the path of service and connects us with our Higher Power, our fellow addicts, and our world in ways we had never dreamed possible. This awakening is the foundation of a responsible and joyful existence as we seek and find our Higher Power’s will for us ---both in our individual lives and in the life of our fellowship. And for this priceless gift of recovery, so astonishingly simple, so freely available, we are humbly grateful. We invite all suffering sex addicts, inside and outside the rooms of SAA, to join with us in accepting this gift.
- If we are painstaking about this phase of our development we will be amazed before we are halfway through.
- We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
- We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
- We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
- No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
- That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
- We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
- Self-seeking will slip away.
- Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
- Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
- We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
- We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
We will now go around the room and do a brief check-in. You may use the list below as a guide. Limit your check-in to no more than one minute. If you need more time or wish to go into greater detail, please reach out for support after the meeting.
Newcomers and Visitors: NO PRESSURE!!! We understand this is all new. Feel free to share as much as you can or simply introduce yourself and pass. We’re just glad you are here!
- ONE OF YOUR CIRCLES (inner, middle, outer)
- STEP WORK (Step work you have done/are doing today)
- SOBRIETY DATE (How long you have been sober)
Reader instructions: Pause after each bullet is read
In SAA, we recognize mileposts on our journey of recovery by giving and taking chips. Even though there are no chips to handout in our online meetings, we offer this opportunity to recognize milestones of achievement in an individual’s program.
- We give chips to newcomers to welcome them to our program. Is there anyone here who has not received a newcomer chip?
- 24-hour chips are given to anyone wishing to make a recommitment to their recovery. Who is taking a virtual chip as a sign of that recommitment today?
- We celebrate sobriety which SAA defines as abstinence from all our identified inner circle behaviors as a result of working the 12 Steps of SAA. Who is celebrating their sobriety with a virtual chip?
- Thanks and keep coming back!
- The group conscience meeting for San Jose SAA is held on the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. AZ Time. This is an opportunity for members from all San Jose SAA meetings to work together for the good of our fellowship. If you’d like to attend, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- SAA literature has been a critical part of recovery for many of us. Green books, meditation books, and pamphlets are available to view for free or for purchase at the SAA ISO website.
- San Jose SAA has both virtual and in-person meetings morning and evening, every day of the week. Please visit the SanJoseSaa.org site's Online Meetings page for meeting times and locations.
- Visit SanJoseSAA.org to listen to previous speaker meetings and workshops and for more information about the San Jose SAA group, our meetings, and activities.
- SAA San Jose needs Trusted Servants to host meetings in September. Go to the San Jose SAA web site's Online Meetings (Telemeetings) page for the buttons to sign up, and if you want a demonstration or training about how to serve as Trusted Servant, you can email email@example.com.
- Friday-Sunday, August 27-29, The Central/Northern Arizona SAA Summer Retreat in Williams Arizona. Registration is now closed, but volunteers are still needed to sign up to bring food for Friday Night potluck (you should have received an email about this if you're attending). For more information go to saa-phoenix.org or click here for the Flyer and Registration Form.
|Character Defects||Commitment||Complacency||Surrender||Emotional Sobriety|
|Gratitude||Higher Power||Rigorous Honesty||Hope||Humility|
|Insanity to Sanity||One Day at a Time||Powerlessness||Prayer||Primary Purpose|
|Resentments||Meditation||Triggers||Inner Circle||Outer Circle|
|Middle Circle||Sponsorship||Tools of Recovery||Service||Spiritual Transformation|
|Let Go and Let God||Progress, Not Perfection||The Spiritual Solution||Act as If||Life on Life's Terms|
|Boundaries||Whatever it takes||HALT||The Newcomer||Withdrawal & Relapse|
|The Steps (any)||The Traditions (any)||Meetings||Phone Calls||Action|
(read by any participant)
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance for after all, God gave us brains to use. Our whole thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
Third Step Prayer (read by any participant)
“God, I offer myself to Thee- to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!”
(read by any participant)
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for an inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
Seventh Step Prayer (read by any participant)
“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding. Amen.”
St Francis Prayer (read by any participant)
“Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace…that where there is hatred, I may bring love…that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness…that where there is discord, I may bring harmony…that where there is error, I may bring truth…that where there is doubt, I may bring faith…that where there is despair, I may bring hope…that where there are shadows, I may bring light…that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted…to understand than to be understood…to love than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”
(read by any participant)
As beginners in meditation, we might now reread this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea. As though lying on a sunlit beach, let us relax and breathe deeply of the spiritual atmosphere with which the grace of this prayer surrounds us. Let us become willing to partake and be strengthened and lifted up by the sheer spiritual power, beauty and love of which these magnificent words are the carriers. Let us look now upon the sea and ponder what its mystery is, and let us lift up our eyes to the far horizon, beyond which we shall seek all those wonders still unseen.
Voices of Recovery selection for today (read by Trusted Servant)
15 minutes of silent meditation (ALL)
(read by any participant)
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn’t work. You can easily see why.
(read by any participant)
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done”. We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves. It works…it really does. We sex addicts are undisciplined. So, we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.
[Sex Addicts Anonymous Page 9]
Sex addiction is not a bad habit. Nor is it the result of poor self-control, a lack of morals, or a series of mistakes, if it were something we could stop on our own, the negative consequences would be enough to make us stop. Many of us tried to cure ourselves with religious or spiritual practice, moral discipline, or self-improvement. Despite our sincerity and our best efforts, we continued to act out. Our behavior eluded all rational attempts at explanation or correction. We had to face the fact that we had a disease, and that we could not stop the addictive behavior by ourselves.
For all of us now in recovery, there came a time when we realized that we simply could not keep on living as before. Our denial cracked and we felt the full force of our unbearable situation. We saw that we were at the end of our rope, and that all that was left was the knot. To continue to act out seemed impossible, and yet to not act out seemed equally impossible. We knew we had to change, even if we didn’t know how. Out of this despair, we came to Sex Addicts Anonymous.
Defining Abstinence: The Inner Circle
To help define our sexual sobriety, many of us use a tool developed within SAA called The Three Circles. This is only a tool and not a requirement. Not every recovering sex addict uses this method. But many members have found that this tool helps establish a foundation for recovery. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 16, paragraph 1]
Our circles are not set in stone for all time. As our recovery progresses and we gain new understanding about ourselves and our addictions, we are free to add or delete behaviors, or move them from one circle to another, in order to reflect new growth and insights. We have found, however, that changing our Three Circles should not be done on a whim, but only after careful consideration and prayer, and with guidance from our sponsor and our groups. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 16, paragraph 3]
In the inner circle we write down the sexual behaviors we want to stop. Inner-circle behaviors are the addictive sexual behaviors that brought us to SAA, the things that made us hit bottom in our disease. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 16, paragraph 4]
Some of us have put behaviors in the inner circle that by themselves may not have serious consequences, but lead to an addictive pattern that can cause us trouble. For instance, we may put using pornography in our inner circle, or cruising (driving around or otherwise looking for sexual possibilities), if these lead behaviors fuel a desire to engage in more destructive behaviors. Some of us experience powerlessness over these less destructive behaviors, because doing them makes us want to act out more. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pgs 16-17, paragraph 5]
In the sex addicts anonymous program, acting out can be defined as engaging in sexual behavior that we have put in our inner circle. Sexual sobriety, then, means abstaining from these inner-circle behaviors. By the same token, a relapse or loss of sobriety) means engaging in inner-circle behavior. When we define our inner circle, or otherwise define what acting out is for us, we eliminate possible confusion concerning our program, and about what we mean when we use terms such as “acting out” or “abstinence.” This clarity helps us to be accountable to ourselves and to those who are helping us in our recovery. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 17, paragraph 1]
We acted out in many different ways. Sometimes we had trouble with one unwanted behavior, sometimes with many. We struggled with promiscuity; anonymous sex; compulsive masturbation; destructive relationships; romantic obsession; compulsive use of pornography, including internet pornography; cybersex; infidelity; compulsive fantasizing; excessive fear or avoidance of sex; voyeurism; exhibitionism; sex in public places; inappropriate touching; sexual assault or molestation; bestiality; or other behaviors that involve risk to ourselves – physical, legal, emotional, or spiritual – and harm to others. These are only examples of acting out; there are many more. The common thread among all these behaviors for us as sex addicts is that we engaged in them compulsively, our willpower was helpless against them, and they had negative, painful effects. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 4, paragraph 1]
One of the most vital aspects of the program is sponsorship. A sponsor is a person in the fellowship who acts as a guide to working the program of SAA, a fellow addict we can rely on for support. Ideally, a sponsor is abstinent from addictive sexual behavior, has worked the steps, and can teach us what he or she has learned from working the program. We can learn from our sponsor’s experience, struggles, successes, and mistakes. Our sponsor can help explain program fundamentals, such as how to define our sexual sobriety. Most importantly, sponsors guide us through the Twelve Steps. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 13, paragraph 1]
If we feel like acting out, we can call our sponsor to talk about it. A sponsor can help hold us accountable for our behavior. If we make a commitment to attend a meeting, our sponsor can note whether we got to the meeting or not. Sponsors can tell us they think we are at risk of relapse. They can suggest when we are not being fully honest with ourselves. Often a sponsor is the person in the fellowship who knows us best. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 13 paragraph 2]
The sponsorship relationship is flexible: it is up to the sponsor and “sponsee” to decide exactly how they will work with each other. We stay in regular contact with our sponsor, reaching out for support, guidance, and encouragement. As we work the Twelve Steps of SAA, our sponsor acts as an ally in our recovery, sharing the experience and wisdom of the program with us. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 14, paragraph 1]
Sponsors and sponsees often form an intense bond that is very healing. We can go to our sponsor with problems that we might feel are too personal to share with a group. Many of us come into recovery feeling unlovable and unworthy. When a sponsor takes the trouble to listen to us and help us through hard times, it helps us to develop trust in another human being. We begin to see that we are worthwhile and deserving of all the gifts that recovery can bring. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 14, paragraph 2]
Once we have worked the SAA program ourselves, gained abstinence from the sexual behaviors that were addictive for us, and experienced some degree of spiritual growth, we are ready to consider sponsoring other members who ask us to do so. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 14, paragraph 3]
Defining Abstinence: The Middle Circle
The middle circle helps us to avoid being perfectionists about our standards for sexual sobriety. In the middle circle we place behavior that is “slippery” for us or about which we are uncertain. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 17, paragraph 2]
Slippery behaviors are the things we do that make us vulnerable to acting out. For some of us, examples may include driving by places where we used to act out, flirting or intriguing, wearing revealing clothing, or watching TV for sexual content. We may fool ourselves into believing that we have a legitimate reason to be in a slippery situation, when in fact this is part of an addictive pattern that can lead to inner-circle behavior. Putting slippery behaviors in our middle circle is a way of warning ourselves when we are in danger of acting out. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 18, paragraph 2]
If we engage in middle circle behavior, we have not lost our sobriety, but it’s a signal that we need to reach out to others and use the tools we have learned in SAA to get us back on track. It’s also important to remember that what is slippery for some may be acting out for others. We need to decide what feels right for us in this process, rather than relying on comparisons with other members whose histories may not match with ours. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 18, paragraph 3]
We may also put non-sexual behaviors in our middle circle that we know lead us to slippery states of mind – unhealthy behaviors that don’t support our recovery. Examples may include isolating from people, missing meetings, overworking, and other potentially addictive behaviors, such as drinking, gambling, and overeating. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 18, paragraph 4]
The middle circle can be seen as a safety net, allowing us to walk the tightrope of abstinence without having to fear that a false step would necessarily be disastrous. We may also think of it as a warning track or a guard rail. If we climb over the guard rail, we haven’t fallen off the cliff. However, we should recognize we are in a dangerous place. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 19, paragraph 2]
The phone is a central tool of recovery for many addicts. Although I had been attending SAA regularly for two years, sexual sobriety had been hard for me to maintain. I would be sober for a couple of weeks then again act out in my inner-circle behaviors. I had a sponsor who I called regularly and was working the steps with. I attended meetings regularly and shared at them, took service commitments, and yet I continued to act out.
At my home-group meeting one night the topic was “using the telephone.” I had heard this before, but early in recovery I had decided it was not for me. I did not want to “bother people,” people who I truly thought would not want to hear from me.
In the discussion that night I heard myself sharing how happy I was when people in SAA called me. Then it occurred to me that others might feel the same way to hear from me – and that I deserved to reach out in this way. The next day I decided to finally give this tool a serious try. On a regular basis, I began connecting with others outside the meeting in a new and deeper way, and I began developing closer relationships with others in the fellowship. I believe today that the willingness to try this particular tool helped contribute enormously to the sexual sobriety I enjoy today, one day at a time. [Voices of Recovery pg 172]
Many of us have found that automatic interventions are better than trying to evaluate whether we are at risk for a relapse. We can make a phone call whenever we are exposed to a trigger, regardless of whether we feel like acting out. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 68, paragraph 3]
Making a habit of staying connected through regular use of the telephone can be a tremendous asset in my recovery toolbox. With a consistent pattern of telephone calls to a few recovering members. I develop the framework of support I need in my recovered life. During challenging situations I will be more inclined to pick up the phone, make a call, and reach out for the support I need in order to keep me from moving into addictive behavior as the result of a triggering situation. [Voices of Recovery pg 157]
Defining Abstinence: The Outer Circle
Finally, we put those behaviors in the outer circle that we consider healthy, safe, and beneficial to our recovery. Practicing these behaviors is a way of being gentle with ourselves. They are acts of self-nurturing that help bring meaning, fulfillment, serenity, and joy to our lives. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 19, paragraph 3]
Most of us also include healthy sexuality in our outer circle. Healthy sexual behaviors are ones we choose that enhance our life, our recovery, our connection to others, and our spiritual life. Examples might include dating, non-abusive sex within a committed relationship, healthy masturbation with or without fantasy, taking a dance class, wearing attractive clothes, or enjoying affectionate touch. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 19, paragraph 5]
Many of us include in our outer circle other healthy activities in our lives, not just healthy sexual behaviors.
These are frequently the things we didn’t have time to do when we were acting out. Examples may include working our recovery program, hobbies we once enjoyed doing, sports and exercise, entertainment we enjoy, time spent with friends and family, socializing and making new friends in a safe environment, volunteering our time to a cause we believe in, or any other activities which make our lives more enjoyable and meaningful. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 19, paragraph 4]
Throughout this process, it is extremely helpful to have the guidance of a sponsor or other more experienced members of the fellowship. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 19, paragraph 6]
[Sex Addicts Anonymous pgs 21-22]
These steps are the heart of our program. They contain a depth we could hardly have guessed when we started. As we work them, we experience a spiritual transformation. Over time we establish a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, each of us coming to an understanding of a Higher Power that is personal for us. Although the steps us the word “God” to indicate this Power, SAA is not affiliated with any religion, creed, or dogma. The program offers a spiritual solution to our addiction, without requiring adherence to any specific set of beliefs or practices. The path is wide enough for everyone who wishes to walk it.
There is no one correct or SAA-sanctioned way to complete the Twelve Steps. Most of us learned how to work the steps from our sponsors. Many of us also gained insight from books or adopted methods from other twelve-step programs. In this book we suggest ideas for how to work each step, based on approaches that have worked for many of us.
Each step presents a significant action, with each action linked to the other steps, in a process that establishes our new life of recovery on spiritual principles. The steps are numbered because they are meant to chart the course of our spiritual progress. We work the steps in order, as each step creates a foundation for the steps that follow. The actions of the steps often involve specific tasks to be completed, such as writing lists, that require an honest examination of ourselves and our way of living. Each action also takes place within us, as we gradually let go of old ways of thinking and establish conscious contact with our Higher Power.
No step is done well in isolation. We work the steps with someone who understands our problem and cares about our recovery, preferably a sponsor. A sponsor will help us prepare for each step, give us guidance and suggestions, and listen to us as we share the experiences and insights we gain.
But the steps are more than a series of exercises. They provide basic principles for living. Most of us find opportunities on a daily basis to apply one or more of the steps to some challenge in our life. Over time, the spiritual principles in the steps become integrated into our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We find that we are not only working the steps – we are living them.
An SAA group consists of two or more individuals, who using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of SAA, meet regularly for the purpose of recovering from their addictive sexual behavior. At our meetings, we read SAA literature, and share our experience, strength and hope with each other, focusing on how the SAA program of recovery works in our lives. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 10, paragraph 3]
SAA meetings are run by members. There are no professional or outside facilitators. We meet as equals: sex addicts helping one another to achieve sexual sobriety and to practice a new way of life. We all contribute to making our meetings places that foster our recovery and carry the SAA message to the sex addict who still suffers. Our fellow members depend on us, as we depend on them. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 10, paragraph 3]
Many things happen in our groups that are important for recovery. We share experience with each other, which reminds us that we have a common illness and that we are not alone. By sharing our stories, we remind ourselves of our progress in recovery, and we give each other hope. We recognize ourselves as we used to be and commit even more deeply to the changes we are making. Being open to the experience, strength, and hope of others can also give us new strategies and attitudes to try in our own recovery. We can take what works for us and leave the rest. At the same time, sharing our experience with others helps to reduce our shame and pain. Not only do other members understand the pain we are feeling – they are willing to help. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 12, paragraph 4]
We also learn specific tools to help us change our behavior and disrupt the compulsive cycle of sexual acting out and despair. We clarify what our abstinence is, what we need to avoid, and what we need to add to our lives in order to experience healthier sexuality. We also get support to do the hard things that will help us find the freedom we seek. When faced alone, these tasks can seem overwhelming. But with others of like mind, we discover a new courage and a new faith. Finally, we learn about the Twelve Steps of SAA, the program of recovery that provides freedom from addictive sexual behavior, and guides us in a new way of life. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pgs 12, paragraph 5]
[Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 67, paragrapsh 2-4]
Relapse means engaging in something that we have defined in our personal program as addictive sexual behavior, or “acting out.” In terms of the Three Circles, relapse means engaging in sexual behavior that we’ve put in our inner circle. It is vital, therefore that we use the Three Circles, or some other tool that exactly defines our abstinence, so that there is no ambiguity when we have relapsed and when we have not. Clear definitions allow us to recognize our progress. Lack of clear definitions leaves room for denial and rationalization, and prevents progress.
There are no failures in this program. We do not judge members who relapse, because we know that we are all powerless over this disease. If we relapse, it is important that we get right back into recovery immediately. We need not turn a mistake into a self-destructive binge. Often we feel ashamed when we relapse. Our addiction becomes charged, and the thought arises that we might as well try to get the urge out of our system. But we have learned that this is only the shame and the addiction talking. Our addictive desires cannot be satisfied. Instead, we can go to an SAA meeting, and we will be welcomed there. Whatever situation we face, no matter how badly or how recently we acted out, no matter how defeated we may feel, we can stay abstinent today. All we need to do is make it a priority to use the tools of the program and seek help from our Higher Power and our friends in recovery.
A relapse is an opportunity to take inventory of how well we are working our program. Here are some important questions to consider: Do we find ourselves returning to slippery situations or places? Are we attending meetings regularly, or are we finding excuses to do something else instead? Are we listening at meetings? Do we judge what others are saying rather than trying to relate to it? Are we being honest when we share? Do we have a sponsor, and have we been keeping in touch with our sponsor? Have we been fully honest with our sponsor? Are we using all of the tools of the program? Are we making phone calls? Are we praying and meditating? Are we working the Twelve Steps? Are we stuck on a particular step? Are we avoiding a step? We need to work all of the steps if we want to continue our progress.
Fundamentally, we do service by staying sober. Everything grows out of that. Being a sober member at a meeting on a regular basis helps keep the solution available to all. Each meeting has ongoing service positions, some of which are particularly appropriate for new members. No matter how new we are, how much sobriety we have, or how long we have been coming to meetings, we can be of service by greeting the newcomer at their first meeting, making phone calls, attending meetings on a regular basis, participating in the meeting sharing and offering to read. Simply showing up early and staying after a meeting can do wonders, especially in early sobriety.
Personal service, one addict helping another, is the most essential way we carry our recovery message. We perform this type of service whenever we greet newcomers or listen to someone in the fellowship who needs to talk. We may sponsor others, visit or write to addicts in jail or prison, or be available to take phone calls from members who are reaching out. In all cases, we share our experience and offer support. The paradox is that service helps us to stay sexually sober ourselves, regardless of the benefit that others may receive from us. [Sex Addicts Anonymous pg 75, paragraph 2]