Sometimes, if a person is struggling enough, attending a Sexual Addicts Anonymous (SAA) meeting or 12 step meeting is necessary. I myself attended several out of a strong desire to overcome and frustration in not knowing what else to do. I attended non-denominational and denomination specific programs. I personally had mixed results. I found both positive and negative aspects of these programs. Nevertheless I would recommend these programs to anyone trying to overcome any sexual addiction such as porn addiction or masturbation.
One of the main benefits of the 12 step meetings I found was the feeling of “I’m not alone or the only one with this problem.” This was quite a relief to me as not many people are open about whether they have these problems or not.
The other benefit I found was the act of confession. Without going into too much detail everyone gets their turn to uncover their secrets. This feels great because part of what fuels addiction is secrecy. It was quite a relief and felt like I was getting a heavy weight off my shoulders.
I found people very willing to befriend and help me in the denominational group. I felt like I always had someone to talk to who would know exactly what I was going through.
The final benefit I got from these meetings was accountability. I knew if I made a mistake I would have to report it to the group the next time I went in. They had these colored chips that were given to people for abstaining for certain lengths of time, the minimum chip being a one month chip.
The bad things are what made me stop going to these meetings. Keep in mind these are just my opinions and you won’t necessarily feel the same. The other reason I stopped going could have been because of distance and laziness but those are not very good excuses.
The number one negative thing I found with these meetings was the labels. Every meeting begins with every person stating their name and then stating they are an addict. For example, “My name is Joe and I am a porn addict.” First of all, this just didn’t feel right to say in front of all those people. Second of all, yes I may be struggling with porn but repeating that phrase certainly doesn’t give me hope of being something better. I agree with admitting problems but not labeling myself as a porn addict every meeting. This just doesn’t help my identity or self-esteem.
The second thing was the confession. Though it felt good to get it all out, it also felt bad telling that many people about something private that was in no way injurious to them personally. I am under the belief that confession should only be unto those who have been harmed. Besides, some of these meetings were coed and that just felt even more weird.
The third problem was some people were giving too much detail when it was their turn to confess. I found this to be a trigger for addiction rather than helpful. In the beginning of the meeting people are told not to be too descriptive but inevitably people slip up. That doesn’t make the whole program bad but I didn’t like it.
The last thing I had difficultly with was there seemed to be no exit strategy. It seemed to me that I was almost expected to attend these meetings for an undefined amount of time if I expected to remain sober. There was one guy, while being a great strength to the group, who was sober for almost two years I think and was still attending these meetings. However, while I was attending, he had a relapse. I couldn’t help but wonder if his continual attendance, despite his success, had caused this relapse. I believe that when a person gets to a point where they are sober and confident for say a couple months then they need to move on and live their life instead of continually dwelling on the worry that they may slip up again. Part of the problem with addiction is thinking too much about addiction.
All that being said I really think that these 12 step sexual addiction meetings are great for people who are just beginning the process of overcoming their addiction. I also think that after you begin to feel confident enough to work without the group then you should move on. However, every person is different and if you feel like you really need to stay in the group longer then of course that is your decision. These programs are a great option and resource for those struggling. Just be careful and make sure it is actually helping and not making things worse. All these programs are not created equal and you may have to try a few different ones until you find one you are comfortable with.
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