What Is The Difference?

Many of my clients ask, “What is the difference between the Sexaholics Anonymous 12-step group (SA) and the Sex Addicts Anonymous 12-step group (SAA)?”

Other sex addiction 12-step programs can be research as well, including: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA), and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA). All of these groups share their experience, strength and hope in recovering from Sexual Addiction, Love Addiction, and/or Sexual Compulsivity.

Different 12-Step Books

Each group has their own manual or book.  The Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) group uses what they call, “The White Book” (because it is white and often has no other reference name on the outside.  

The Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) group uses what they call, “The Green Book” (because it is green).  Both books are written by different authors (I believe the Green Book was authored mostly by Dr. Patrick Carnes and the White Book by Roy K.

SA is more focus on the issue of lust, while SAA is more focused on compulsive sexual behaviors.

Both groups are based on the same 12-steps of recovery that are used in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Sobriety Definitions

SA’s sexual sobriety definition is more defined than SAA. The SA definition of sobriety is “No sex with yourself (masturbation) and no sex outside your spouse.” SA doesn’t support any sexual behavior outside marriage. Some believe this to be too rigid and excludes a large group of men and women that need support.  

The SAA group define their own sobriety using the 3 circles of sobriety: the inner circle are what the addict considers to be “bottom line behaviors” that break sobriety, the middle circle are boundaries and caution behaviors/feelings/thoughts/triggers, and the outer circle are healthy behaviors/actions/feelings.  

The members in SAA will work with a sponsor to determine the 3 circles. The middle circle allows members to add “slippery slope” behaviors (triggers, edging close to the line behaviors) but not resetting one’s sobriety (but still being accountable to a sponsor). The addict can still be as strict as the SA definition or even stricter.

My Stance

My belief is that the main focus of recovery is not on sobriety but rather on getting healthy and learning to connect to the other group members. Sexual addiction is not about the need for more sex but rather a deep wound and pain from past relationships.  

The sex addict must learn to open up to others in a group and take a risk of sharing vulnerably and honestly. To do this, he or she must experience acceptance and safety. Sobriety definition isn’t as important as a safe place (fellowship) to feel loved, accepted, and valued.

With the help of a sponsor or therapist, I believe that either program can provide direction, support, and accountability to stay sober, heal from the underlying wounds, and find a new healthier path of freedom from the madness of sex addiction.