Before coming to Sex Addicts Anonymous, many of us never knew that our problem had a name. All we knew was that we couldn’t control our sexual behaviour.
For us, sex was a consuming way of life. Although the details of our stories were different, our problem was the same.
We were addicted to sexual behaviours that we returned to over and over, despite the consequences.
Sex addiction is a disease affecting the mind, body and spirit. It is progressive with the behaviour and its consequences usually becoming more severe over time.
We experience it as a compulsion, which is an urge that is stronger than our will to resist, and as obsession, which is a mental preoccupation with sexual behaviour and fantasies.
In SAA, we have come to call our addictive sexual behaviour “acting out”
Source: from “Sex Addicts Anonymous – the Green Book” p3 para 1 & 2
Attending SAA meetings starts us on a new way of life. However, whilst the SAA fellowship supports our recovery, the actual work of recovery is described in the Twelve Steps.
Working the Twelve Steps leads to a spiritual transformation that results in sustainable relief from our addiction.
When we start attending meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous, many of us are surprised to meet people who are enjoying life and experiencing freedom from the painful, compulsive behaviours that brought them to SAA.
Listening to other members share about their recovery, we gradually realise that in order to make the same kind of progress, we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get sexually sober and stay sober.
We have learnt from hard experience that we cannot achieve and maintain sexual sobriety if we aren’t willing to change our way of life. However, if we can honestly face our problems, and are willing to change, the Twelve Steps of SAA will lead to an awakening that allows us to live a new way of life according to spiritual principles.
Taking these steps allows fundamental change to occur and be sustained in our lives. They are the foundation of our recovery.
Avoidance of sexual behaviour
“Intimacy avoidance” refers to conduct and attitudes that serve to
avoid or block sexual, emotional, or spiritual connection with others, ourselves, or our Higher Power. Many sex addicts compulsively avoid their feelings or have difficulty being emotionally
vulnerable with others. When this intimacy avoidance becomes focused on avoiding anything to do with sex, it’s sometimes called, “acting in.”
For some sex addicts, a diverse set of compulsive sexually avoidant behaviors had always painfully dominated our lives. For others, avoidant behaviors only became apparent once we abstained from acting out. Some of us have even acted out and acted in simultaneously. For example, some of us used our sexual acting out to avoid sex in our committed relationships. We also engaged in additional specific behaviors to avoid intimacy and sex in these relationships.
The Intimacy Avoidance leaflet describes the compulsion to avoid sexual and emotional intimacy. It contains a list of behaviours that some of us experience as avoidance.
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)
“Before coming to Sex Addicts Anonymous, many of us never knew that our problem had a name. All we knew was that we couldn’t control our sexual behavior. For us, sex was a consuming way of life. Although the details of our stories were different, our problem was the same. We were addicted to sexual behaviors that we returned to over and over, despite the consequences.”
(Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 3)
“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)