Intimacy Avoidance

“Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder, meaning the ability to be grounded in reality and genuinely connected emotionally with another person can be damaged by compulsive sexual behaviors. In addition, some SAA members have found themselves ‘shut down’ sexually in recovery, afraid of sex because of its association in our minds with our addiction or with past sexual trauma, or because of a fear of intimacy and vulnerability.”

(Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 72)

The SAA telemeetings […] focus on applying the 12 Steps to heal from the avoidance of true intimacy […].

From the “ISA Awareness Event #1” announcement

See the SAA Office Diversity website section on Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance [ISA]. sometimes called Intimacy Avoidance, Sexual Avoidance or Sexual Anorexia.

See SAA Literature for two pamphlets:

How to find an Intimacy Avoidance [or ISA] meeting

Intimacy Avoidance Stories

Click here for recordings and stories.

Information for Newcomers to Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance

“Welcome to the Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance (ISA) meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous!  Individuals from many different countries participate in the ISA-focused telemeetings and ZOOM video conference meetings, ranging from SAA members who have long-term sobriety to newcomers.  Some have worked the Twelve Steps of SAA in order to stop acting out sexually, and are now examining the role of intimacy avoidance in their lives.  Others have been drawn to this fellowship specifically because of the ISA-focused meetings.  Still others have a spouse or partner whom they suspect struggles with intimacy issues and want to learn more by attending the open ISA meetings.  Whatever brings you here, welcome!”

ISA Awareness Committee (ISAAC)

Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance Terminology

Here is a brief explanation of some words and phrases which are commonly used in talking about intimacy and sexual avoidance.

  • Intimacy avoidance:  preventing or sabotaging closeness and connection with self or others
  • Sexual anorexia: starving oneself of sexual nurturing and affection as a means of control
  • Compulsive sexual avoidance: an obsessive state in which the avoidance of sex dominates one’s life.  Often “sexual anorexia” and “compulsive sexual avoidance” are used interchangeably.
  • ISA Awareness Committee (ISAAC):  The purpose of the Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance Awareness Committee is to raise awareness of intimacy and sexual avoidance (anorexia) and to carry the message of recovery to those who wish to work the Steps using this awareness.                                                                            
  • Telemeeting Intergroup:  ISA telemeetings belong to the Telemeeting Intergroup.  Like an in-person intergroup which serves to facilitate communication and support between several meetings of a geographical area, the Telemeeting Intergroup supports over one hundred SAA telemeetings.  One of the services they offer is a website on which to store our meeting formats (scripts) and draft documents.  This site is

Getting Started

●       If you are new to Twelve-Step groups:

SAA is a spiritual program based on the principles and traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.  You will find answers to some of your questions about our program by reading the book Sex Addicts Anonymous, which can be read online.

●       If you are familiar with Twelve-Step programs but new to SAA:

“Unlike programs for recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, Sex Addicts Anonymous does not have a universal definition of abstinence.  Since different addicts suffer from different behaviors, and since our sexuality is experienced in so many different ways, it is necessary that SAA members define for themselves, with the help of their sponsors or others in recovery, which of their sexual behaviors they consider to be “acting out.” 

(Sex Addicts Anonymous, pages 14-15

Suggested reading:

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