Regular attendance at 12-step meetings is a vital part of the treatment plan for sex and love addicts. Yet many addicts try to sidestep the 12 steps by telling themselves they're not like the people they meet in "those rooms." Here are some of the most common excuses I hear from clients who try to convince themselves - and me - that they can recover without working the steps.
1) "I don't relate to any of those people"
2) "Their problems are much worse than mine"
3) "The meetings are depressing"
4) "I can't deal with the God stuff"
5) "Some of them have been going for 20 years! Doesn't anyone get better?"
Generally, clients who utter these statements are scared about coming out of isolation and admitting that they have an addiction. They project their own shame around their compulsive behaviors and the problems they've created in their lives on to the regulars in the meetings. When I hear sex and love addict's distance themselves from those in the program, I pass on to them the conventional wisdom of trying at least six different meetings before they make a decision, since every meeting has its own personality and culture.
The recovery philosophies of the four main 12-step fellowships for sex addiction encompass a broad spectrum. Someone who is comfortable in Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), for instance, would most likely not connect with those in Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA). Below are profiles of the distinct 12-step fellowships that address a person's sexual behavior:
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) - SAA does not have a universal definition of abstinence and instead believes that it is necessary for each member to defines his or her own.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) - this group is geared for both sex and love addiction, which includes dependency on a person or people in addition to sexual acts. SLAA also encourages recovery from sexual anorexia, emotional, and social anorexia.
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA) - this program strives to help addicts learn to express sexuality in ways that do not endanger mental, physical or spiritual health. SCA is open to all sexual orientations and welcomes both males and females.
S-Anon and COSA - similar to Alanon, these groups are designed for partners and family members of the sex addict to provide support and address codependency issues.
Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA) - the only fellowship geared specifically for couples whose committed relationships have been impacted by sex and love addiction.
If you are struggling with sexually compulsive behavior, try different meetings to find the right fit. You may discover that you actually have a lot in common with the people in "those rooms." For treatment options take a look at sex therapy Los Angeles.