Journalist questions about Sexaholics Anonymous

The following questions were posed by a Belgian journalist in Feb 2010. The answers, written by one sober member, and then reviewed by others, show how such questions might be dealt with. However, they are not a recommendation to grant interviews to the press.

You may have better ideas about how such questions might be dealt with. If so, please let us know here.

Q. Why can you only have sex with a married hetero-partner, according to the principles of Sexaholics Anonymous? Why not with an unmarried committed partner? and why not with a committed (or married) homo-partner? That means that homo's can never have sex? Isn't that absurd? Isn't this discriminating to homo's and people who consciously do not want to marry?

A. Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) has discovered a solution to a progressive, fatal illness called sexaholism. We don’t claim this solution for everybody, but for us, it works. If anyone identifies with us and thinks they may share our problem, then we want to share our solution with them. In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside SA. We can only speak for ourselves. Thus, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse. In SA’s sobriety definition, the term “spouse” refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman. For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all of us in SA, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust.

Q. Why can't you masturbate? Masturbating does not always have to lead to derailed behaviour?

A. I have found it impossible to gain victory over lust while continuing to take the actions of lust. For me, these included everything from masturbation and voyeurism to adultery and sexual intrigue. Masturbation, like sucking my thumb, was something I used to do in order to comfort myself. Today, I don't want to do it, and thanks to SA recovery, I don't need to do it.

Q. Why is Sexaholics Anonymous so harsh/severe in its definition of sobriety?

A. I would prefer to use the word clear. If it is also tough, that is because I have a tough disease.

Q. Does the comparison with alcoholism fit?

A. To a certain extent but a better comparison is with compulsivity around food. The research is incomplete, but it seems that very similar brain chemistry is involved in compulsions towards sex and food. As someone who suffers from both compulsions, I am sure that this will prove to be the case.

Q. Isn't sex an essential (unmissable) part of life? Could it be healthy to have no sex any more for a long time (or never any more)? This I find a very important question: could you please be very extensive in your answer here?

A. There is no evidence that abstaining from lust is harmful. I know of many men and women who abstain from sexual activity of all kinds. They seem to me to be perfectly balanced and well adjusted. I'm not sure there is anything further that I can add.

Q. Therapists try to give patients with sex addiction problems a more balanced outlook and attitude on sexuality, in other words to give sex a healthy place, by means of therapy, medication, etc. and not by complete abstinence. Isn't that more healthy, efficient, natural?

A. I am no "ordinary therapy patient in need of a better attitude to sexuality". I am a low-bottomed lust addict who will die of this disease, if I do not have a spiritual awakening and then go on to maintain a fit spiritual condition. The best delivery mechanism for this essential spiritual solution is the 12 Steps.

Q. Isn't that also not what Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) try to achieve: trying by 'recovery plans' to lead a balanced life again?

A. As a former member of another "S" fellowship, I have nothing but gratitude for the work that they do. I stayed as long as I could but my disease progressed and eventually I had to move to "the last house on the block", which is Sexaholics Anonymous. Our recovery plan is to work the 12 Steps.

Q. How 'scientific' (efficient, well-founded, responsible) is the approach of Sexaholics Anonymous? Isn't it more of a 'normative' (ideological, moral, religious) approach?

A. Sexaholics Anonymous is a spiritual fellowship where ill people are getting well. It is not a religion were bad people are getting good. Modern scientific research upholds the biopsychosocial model of addiction and has validated the effectiveness of the spiritual solution. The 12 Steps are simply the best delivery mechanism for that spiritual solution.

Q. Why is the help of a Higher Power (e.g. God) necessary to recover? Can it not be done without God?

A. The Sexaholics Anonymous programme does not require me to believe in God. I know that I am powerless over lust and must find a power capable of overcoming it, if I am to live. That's a power greater than me. I can call that power whatever I like. I happen to call it God. Recovery is impossible without a power greater than me.

Q. The presence of God undoubtedly scares a lot of (non-believing) people; they associate it with sects; is that not a danger?

A. Yes, but they get over it eventually, or they die of the disease.

Q. What do sex addicts have to do who want to withdraw but are atheist, or anti-believing?

A. The same as the ones who do believe; go to meetings; get a sponsor; work the Steps.

Q. Explain in short the 12 steps and why recovery has to follow such a (complicated) road?

A. The path is not complicated, it is just hard. It is the disease that is complex. The solution is very simple: abstain from lust; work the 12 Steps; have a spiritual awakening; become the sort of person who no longer needs to lust; maintain a fit spiritual condition. In essence the steps require me to:

  1. Admit my powerlessness
  2. Seek a higher power
  3. Surrender my will and life
  4. Examine my defects
  5. Confess
  6. Become ready to change
  7. Let go of my defects
  8. List those I've harmed
  9. Make amends
  10. Own up to daily wrongs
  11. Pray and meditate
  12. Tell others about this solution

Q. What's the difference between Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA)? Who is better helped with SA or SCA? Is SA for the 'heavy' cases?

A. Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) is unlike other "S" fellowships in that it has a fixed sobriety definition and appeals directly to those who want to stop lusting. Those who wish to stop certain acting out behaviours only and those who feel more comfortable setting their own sobriety standard will probably look for a solution elsewhere. SA is for heavy cases and for light, but most of all, it is for those who are really serious about becoming lust-free.

Q. Which people come to look for help in Sexaholics Anonymous? Professions, ages, which problems do they have (examples of compulsive behaviour)?

A. Our membership is about 90% men and 10% women, 53% are married, 30% have acted out with same sex. The average length of sobriety of those who attend Sexaholics Anonymous conventions is 3 years. There is no research data on ages or professions. One survey found that members had: used pornography 68%; lusted after others 78%; indulged in romantic/sexual fantasy 76%; lusted after self 28%; intentionally provoked lust in others 36%.

Q. Doesn't it scare a lot of people that they have to be/become quasi-sex abstainers according to the principles of Sexaholics Anonymous?

A. When I got to Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), I was shackled to a madman and willing to do anything to get unshackled. Abstinence from sex has been a very acceptable price to pay for the gift of sobriety. I can reassure the timid that my sex-free years in SA recovery have been the richest of my life.

Q. What do the members of Sexaholics Anonymous do during their meetings? In which sense does this stimulate their recovery?

A. Members share their experience, their strength and their hope, as they discuss the Sexaholics Anonymous solution. In this way we gain experience, strength and hope from each other. Thus we encourage each other to get well and stay well by embracing this spiritual solution.


If you are a member of the press and would like to learn more about Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) please contact us.