Sex Addicts Anonymous
A twelve step peer support group made up of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope through weekly meetings to help each other stop addictive sexual behaviour.
Type of intervention
Group work, peer support
Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups
- (Potential) Offenders | Secondary prevention | Adults (21+ years) | Male and female | Group work, peer support | English
- (Potential) Offenders | Tertiary prevention | Adults (21+ years) | Male and female | Group work, peer support | English
The target population for Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is adults who have a desire to stop their addictive sexual behaviour. Although many will want to recover from sexual behaviour which does not involve children or images of children, some will have been convicted of, committed, or for other reasons feel at risk of committing, child sexual abuse.
Every SAA group is autonomous and groups in the UK have joined to create the UK Intergroup of Sex Addicts Anonymous, responsible for helping them carry their message of recovery.
Mode and context of delivery
SAA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope to help each other stop their addictive sexual behaviour. Local groups usually hold weekly face-to-face meetings, although some meetings use telephone or internet voice conference calls. SAA may be recommended by professionals from other organisations, but attendance is voluntary and conditional only upon a desire to stop their addictive sexual behaviour.
Level/nature of staff expertise required
SAA is a Twelve Step peer support group. Members are encouraged to select an experienced sponsor to guide them through the twelve steps, although this is not mandatory. SAA sponsorship is non-professional and experienced members serve others in this way as part of their own recovery from addictive sexual behaviour.
Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)
Members typically encourage each other to share practical and realistic experiences of recovery at one or more meetings a week, to call others in the programme each day, to read SAA and other Twelve Step literature regularly, to spend time in prayer and meditation and to work through the Twelve Steps using written and active exercises with a sponsor, co-sponsor or step-group.
Description of intervention
Members share a wide range of practical recovery resources (including the literature available at the websites referred to below) and are free to select whatever seems right to them, but groups registered with the UK Intergroup are required to follow a spiritual programme based on the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of SAA.
The Twelve Steps of SAA provide a mental, practical and spiritual framework for individual addicts to work through, typically supported by more experienced members:
- We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behaviour - 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
The twelve traditions of SAA provide a spiritual framework within which groups operate and co-operate:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon SAA unity
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as may be expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern
- The only requirement for SAA membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behaviour
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or SAA as a whole
- Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the sex addict who still suffers
- An SAA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the SAA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose
- Every SAA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions
- Sex Addicts Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centres may employ specialist workers
- SAA, 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 SAA 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
SAA was founded in 1977 and by the end of 2013 comprised of about 1500 local and electronic meetings, with about 1200 in the USA and 55 in the UK. The SAA spiritual programme of recovery is based on the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous founded in 1935, although SAA is not affiliated with AA or any other organisation. Experienced members personally testify to their own recovery as a result of working through the Twelve Steps, but Sex Addicts Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues and cites no independent evaluation.
References to Steps and Traditions are taken from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Sex Addicts Anonymous, adapted with permission from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other useful websites include:
- The International Service Organisation of Sex Addicts Anonymous - see www.saa-recovery.org.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous (Green Book) - see www.saa-recovery.org/SAALiterature/English/SAABook
- The UK Intergroup of Sex Addicts Anonymous - see www.saa-recovery.org.uk.
SAA UK Outreach Servant