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Sex Addicts Anonymous® (SAA) is a twelve-step program for people struggling to recover from sex addiction. A sex addict is typically defined as a person whose sexual compulsions, fantasies, and behaviors are uncontrollable, and damaging to his quality of life. These compulsions, actions, and thoughts may lead to undesirable consequences in interpersonal relationships, work, and family life, even when the sex addict is not acting on his compulsions or fantasies. The typical sex addict will experience painful emotions of self-hatred, shame, or despair surrounding his sexual activities, compulsions and desires. Sex Addicts Anonymous® is designed to help people suffering from sex addiction to control their harmful, unhealthy sexual practices and thoughts, while still enjoying healthy sexual practices.
People participating in Sex Addicts Anonymous® typically follow the same sorts of therapeutic guidelines as do other 12-step addiction recovery programs. They are encouraged to attend SAA meetings regularly and take a sponsor, who normally has a lot of experience with the program and has successfully overcome unhealthy sexual behaviors. Members of Sex Addicts Anonymous® are generally encouraged to practice anonymity. They do not usually tell one another their surnames, occupations, or other life details, outside of what is necessary for recovery from sex addiction. In addition, members are usually encouraged to refrain from discussing meetings or other SA members with those who do not belong to SA.
Since sex is generally considered a normal part of life, sexual activity cannot often be completely eliminated. Instead, members of Sex Addicts Anonymous® are normally asked to make individual, personal judgments about which sexual activities are unhealthy for them. Members will then set out, with the help of the program, to refrain from these behaviors in the future. In SAA meetings, all members usually try to help one another cope with sex addiction. If a member needs individualized attention or has an emergency, his sponsor will normally be available to speak with him.
Many SAA members organize their potential sexual behaviors into three categories. These are generally seen as unhealthy behaviors that should never be repeated, unhealthy behaviors that could lead to forbidden behaviors if repeated, and healthy behaviors. Many sex addicts in recovery consider consensual sex in the context of a monogamous relationship to be the only healthy sexual behavior.
Joining Sex Addicts Anonymous® generally requires interviewing with a local group. The group will typically administer a series of questions to determine if the person is legitimately addicted to sex. Once the application has been approved, a sponsor from within the group will be found for the new member. The new member may need to meet several potential sponsors, since it is generally considered best that the pair get along well.