What is Sex and Love Addiction?
We in Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) believe that sex and love addiction is a progressive illness that cannot be cured but which, like many illnesses, can be arrested. It may take several forms – including (but not limited to) a compulsive need for sex, extreme dependency on one person (or many), and/or a chronic preoccupation with romance, intrigue or fantasy. An obsessive/compulsive pattern, either sexual or emotional (or both), exists in which relationships or sexual activities have become increasingly destructive to career, family and sense of self-respect. Sex and love addiction, if left unchecked, always gets worse.
However, if we follow a simple program that has proven successful for scores of other men and women with the same illness, we can recover. In S.L.A.A., we learn to accept the reality of having this addiction and surrender any notion that we can control it successfully on the basis of our unaided will. Admitting personal powerlessness over this affliction, we cease our addictive behavior and turn to guidance from a Power greater than ourselves, make restitution for harm done to others, and reconstruct our lives physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Each of us in S.L.A.A. knows the confusion and difficulty of walking into the first few meetings, feeling like a newcomer in new surroundings. Whether we took this courageous step out of pain and hopelessness, sought relief from longing and emptiness, or were directed to attend, we move toward recovery by being here. We hope you will feel free to share with the group why you came to S.L.A.A. and you may also want to ask questions of individuals after the meeting.
Among the first questions we faced when we attended meetings were: “Am I an addict?” “Am I a sex and love addict?” “What is the nature of my addiction?” Please take the time to answer these questions for yourself. For more information, see the pamphlets Introduction To Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous, Questions Beginners Ask, 40 Questions For Self Diagnosis and Anorexia: Sexual, Social, and Emotional available at most meetings and from S.L.A.A.’s international office, Fellowship Wide Services.
We suggest attending S.L.A.A. meetings as often as you can. There are many kinds of meetings and each has its own personality. If you don’t find quite the right meeting the first time, we suggest attending other meetings: “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
- At S.L.A.A. meetings, we share our “experience, strength and hope” of recovery from sex and love addiction.
- For our group unity, we seek to provide an environment free from shame, judgment, criticism, manipulation and abuse where members can feel safe to share what they think and feel. We ask members to help maintain that supportive environment.
- We maintain confidentiality and refrain from disclosing names or identifying group members outside the meeting. We understand anonymity to be critical to the foundation of our recovery.
- We refrain from interruption or interaction while another is sharing. Most groups have procedures for respectfully maintaining order and focus.
- Cross-talk, in some areas also called “feedback,” is discouraged at our meetings. Cross-talk is sometimes defined as giving advice, making reference to what someone else has shared or otherwise drawing attention to another member’s story.
Some Commonly Asked Questions
Who runs the meeting?
An S.L.A.A. meeting is run by its members. Typically, there is a member who guides the meeting, another who is entrusted with the group’s finances and perhaps one who orders literature for the group. These “trusted servants” are volunteers elected by group members to regular service positions that typically last six to 12 months.
When do I speak?
Typically, newcomers can speak at any time during the regular portion of the meeting and some meetings set aside specific time for newcomers to share. Remember you need not speak if you don’t want to.
What’s with the money basket?
S.L.A.A. groups are self-supporting, declining outside contributions. Our expenses, such as rent and literature, are paid by voluntary contributions from our members. We pass the basket also known as “practicing the “Seventh Tradition,” and members are encouraged to donate as they are able. No one is ever required to make any donation at an S.L.A.A. meeting.
So, what’s this God or Higher Power talk?
S.L.A.A. is based on spiritual (not religious) principles. We have found that acknowledgement of some power greater than ourselves (Higher Power) is crucial to recovery from our self-destructive behaviors. Members are not required to adhere to any doctrine, either religious or secular. You are welcome in S.L.A.A. whether you are of any faith or of none.
The Language Of Recovery
Many different terms are used during S.L.A.A. meetings. While many terms are used differently in various S.L.A.A. groups, we will attempt to define a few of the terms commonly used in S.L.A.A..
• Abstinence—A change in our behavior that involves stopping the addictive pattern —one day, sometimes one minute, at a time. Abstinence is a beginning point in sobriety.
• Acting Out —To engage in addictive behavior. Engaging in a behavior that is on one’s bottom line list is often referred to as having a slip.
• Anorexia—The compulsive avoidance of giving or receiving social, sexual or emotional nourishment.
• Bottom Line Behaviors —Generally, self-defined activities that we refrain from in order to experience our physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual wholeness.
• Boundaries—Self-defined, self-protective limits we use for interaction with persons, places, things, or activities.
• Cross-talk—Sometimes known as “feedback.” To respond directly or indirectly to what someone has shared in a meeting; for example, to offer someone answers to his or her problems, or to engage in dialogue during a meeting.
• Group Conscience—A process of decision-making by the group. S.L.A.A. encourages all members to express their views.
• Inventory or “Moral” Inventory—A list of qualities within a person, both positive and negative, discovered through self-examination.
• Sobriety—Initially, a state of abstinence from addictive bottom-line behaviors; often accompanied by the return of sanity, choice, and personal dignity that comes from abstaining from bottom-line behaviors.
• Sobriety Date—Generally, the date we stop engaging in our bottom-line behaviors.
• Sponsor—A person who works closely with another member to provide individual support and guidance in applying the S.L.A.A. Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition program. A Sponsor should be a person we are not in danger of acting out with, nor are likely to find intrigue with.
• Trigger—A person, place, thing, or environment that sets off an urge to act out.
• Withdrawal—The physical, mental, emotional, and often spiritual upheaval which generally accompanies a break in our addictive pattern.
• 13th Stepping—Manipulating another person in recovery, especially a newcomer, into a sexual, emotional, or romantic relationship.