Sexaholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
The essence of SA recovery is sexually sober men and women reaching out to help those who wish to recover. It is spiritual work and our rewards are deep satisfaction and continued growth in recovery. Tradition Eight provides a clear boundary: we carry the message as sexahlolics, not as professionals. As in Tradition Seven, it is paramount that we keep spiritual matters separate from material matters.
Specifically what is it that must remain non-professional? As used here, professionalism refers to the occupation of counseling sexaholics on behalf of SA for fees or hire. There can be no charge for carrying the message of SA recovery to another sexaholic, whether by introducing a newcomer to SA recovery, sponsoring other members, leading meetings, or acting as a trusted servant. We do not accept payment for any of these services, that is for Twelfth Step work. As AA cofounder Dr. Bob said, our compensation consists of knowing we are doing the right thing, the pleasure of the
interaction, making a payment on our debt to those who carried the message to us, and personal insurance against a slip (AA 180-81).
It can be tempting on our part as we make progress in our recovery to see ourselves as more expert and knowledgeable than others. However, this Tradition clearly indicates that, whatever our knowledge base, skill level, or related training and education, we remain amateurs in recovery, and share only from our personal experience, strength and hope. As part of our recovery we may take on specific tasks or service work to benefit the fellowship, but this does not mean we are professionals or experts. When it comes to SA, we are all merely recovering sexaholics; none of us has a supervisory
position that allows us to steer the fellowship. Each SA group ought to be a spiritual entity guided by a Higher Power that speaks through the group conscience.
The sharing of recovery between sexaholics is simply love in action. We cannot put a price on it. Love by its very nature transcends the material world. Loving action defies logic - as we give, we receive, and as we give more, we have more to give. As our program is primarily spiritual, we don’t really understand how it works; only that it does.
We must stick to the original principles of recovery lest we jeopardize our success. Tradition Eight reminds us to protect this spiritual principle. and not lose sight of the power of one sex addict listening to another and sharing his or her personal recovery story. As recovered sexaholics we alone have what the newcomer desperately needs. Our offer of hope and sanctuary may be the only one they have. Our solution can change their
lives, so we must make what we have available to them without fee or any requirement other than a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober.
Likewise, there is no better way to insure our sobriety than to carry the message to those in need, so we dare not support any arrangement that might interfere with that. Beyond the necessity to maintain our sobriety, working with others is a pleasure. The joy of participating in this lifesaving, transcendent exchange is profound. We find a greater purpose in helping others recover and seeing them help still others. We become part of a community, living with integrity, often for the first time in our lives. Carrying the message is a necessary and precious part of our new life. Any attempt to organize, systematize, or control Twelfth Step work would risk that joy as well as our sobriety.
Tradition Eight offers guidance and sanctuary to members who happen to be addiction professionals (therapists, social workers, etc,). These members do not attend meetings in their professional capacity or as experts. Their own personal recovery is their prime concern, and they carry the message of their experience with SA recovery. We also avoid the jargon used by addiction professionals.
We of SA have great respect for the helping professions and value the efforts and assistance that they provide. Like other people, some members seek professional help and advice from time to time. Within our group, however, professional credentials and training do not make one an authority on SA recovery. Recovery expertise is based on experience, strength, and hope. Even though our profession may be that of a counselor or therapist, we cannot, in the name of SA, counsel sexaholics for fee or hire. In the spirit this Tradition, we also maintain a separation between our other professional skills, be they legal, religious, or other, and the fellowship. This separation protects both us as individuals and the fellowship as a whole from entanglements that could be ruinous.
We leave our other identities outside the door. We don’t use meetings to promote any professional or non-SA activities, whether they are associated with recovery or not. Our primary purpose is SA sobriety, not marketing our own business or favorite charity. Tradition Eight also acknowledges that the needs of our fellowship will grow as newcomers join us and recovery continues. Phone calls and e-mails need to be answered; literature needs to be printed and distributed. As technology advances, web sites and other communication methods need to be arranged and maintained. To this end, SA employs special workers to ensure that the information SA has to offer will be accessible when sought, and referrals will be made to local groups or members. These workers aid the fellowship in focusing on our primary purpose, helping the sexaholic who still suffers. When we require clerical or other practical service, it is fine to hire a sexaholic or any other qualified person for that work at the going rate.
On a Personal Note
For individuals, Tradition Eight carries a special caution. We remain amateurs in recovery no matter how long we are sober or attend meetings. We take on specific tasks to benefit the fellowship, as service work helps buttress our sobriety. However, we do not become specialists or professionals in recovery.
In our interpersonal relations Tradition Eight suggests that we not assume professional status. We don’t become professional or expert parents, children, or friends. In the spirit of anonymity we remain equals with partners and acquaintances.
Members of SA Share
The gifts that I received when my sponsor took me through the Steps were a spiritual awakening and a new life of freedom from the bondage of lust. While that might make for a great advertising campaign, I could never put a dollar value on it. Any sort of material payment would ultimately demean the experience. When I accompany other members through the Steps to freedom, it is clear to me that I am only a witness and a support of how their Higher Power transforms them.
I deserve no payment. I am trying to get even for both the harm I have done and the spiritual experience I received. Any amount of money is peanuts compared to the power of this program and the joy available to those who are willing to do the work.
Preventing Twelfth Step work from becoming professional keeps members from being distracted by money from the work itself and protects the fellowship from controversy. But it also protects the sacred trust we have of carrying the message from devaluation in a materialistic society.
When I carry the message to another sexaholic and it is received, I watch another person awaken to the freedom of a spiritual life free from lust and shame. My own spiritual awakening is reinforced. I cannot put a price on that. Maintenance of my spiritual condition is my top priority today. My relationship with my Higher Power comes first, before my marriage, my family, or my job. “For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded” (AA 127).
In 1994 a California earthquake severely damaged the building housing the Sexaholics Anonymous office; that set in motion a process that resulted in our move to Tennessee. Two years earlier, the fellowship had begun the transition to a new service structure, with committees responsible for carrying out SA work. Opening the new office and preparing to hire a non-sexaholic to run it, the Central Office Management Committee came into being and made a conscious effort to work in the spirit of the words of Tradition Eight: “ . . . our service centers may employ special workers.”
Several candidates were interviewed to become the first fellowship-wide employee. The person we chose ran the office for a few years. We then employed another person as SA International Central Office Administrator. Since then, we have hired a number of other people.
We have had scarcely any problems or conflicts about these workers. I believe this is due both to our willingness to embrace Tradition Eight and also to our total commitment to carry the message of sobriety to all those suffering from sexual and lust addiction. Since I place serenity highest on my want-list every day, I am very grateful that SA has been spared from these distractions.
I learned to think of Tradition Eight as keeping the heart of SA separate from the hands of SA. The heart of our fellowship is recovery and the essence of recovery is sponsorship, that precious relationship where one recovered individual shares with another how to recover from a hopeless condition of mind and body–– how to apply the Twelve Steps of SA. But the body of our fellowship also needs hands. We need to have people to answer inquiries from outside, answering phones and mail, and responding to requests for literature and referrals. The fellowship needs clerical and managerial support
of these official functions. These more material aspects of SA’s functioning and are also essential to the operation of the “heart.”
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
Tradition Eight 166-71
Long Form 191
Questions to Consider
1. What is the difference between special workers and Twelfth Step work?
2. Have I taken the time to learn what SA employees do and how this differs from other resources available to sexaholics?
3. Am I a know it all? Do I try to sound like an expert on sexaholism, recovery, SA, spirituality, or humility?
4. Do I think of other members as experts?
5. Do I hold back from sharing because I am worried that I don’t know as much as
6. Do I have any life experiences that illustrate the wisdom of this Tradition?
7. What principles does this Tradition prompt me to practice?
8. How does this Tradition benefit the sexaholic who still suffers?
9. How does this Tradition promote unity?
10. How does this Tradition apply to my SA group?
11. How do these questions and this Tradition apply to the other groups I am a part of such as such as at home and at work?