12-Step Programs For Sex Addiction

I speak to BINA LA. Here is my story.

A few months ago, I was talking to my therapist about what I want out of life.

After I paused, he said to me, “That sounds like eroticized rage.”

Eroticized rage? I’d never even heard of eroticized rage, but I was immediately intrigued.

My therapist said that eroticized rage is anger that’s been sexualized.

I went home and Googled “eroticized rage” and read and realized that all of my sexual fantasies are just forms of anger.

My therapist explained to me that in men this usually develops out of a relationship with an over-controlling mother figure.

My mother had terminal cancer when I was a baby. By the time she finally died when I was four, I had a lot of different mother figures and some of them were probably over-controlling and out of it I developed this hatred of women.

A lot of people in the past have told me that I hated women. That I was a sex addict. I never took them seriously.

Then I read about eroticized rage and realized I had it, realized I hated women, and realized I was a sex addict.

I came back to therapy and said, I have to go to 12-step meetings for sex addiction.

Yes, there are treatments for those addicted to sex, and those 12-step meetings are just one of them.

My therapist explained there were basically four such groups.

There is Sexaholics Anonymous. This group is strict. It stands for no pre-marital sex. No masturbation. No extra-marital sex. It is guys struggling to stay faithful to their wives. The group has a strong Christian overtone but in the big cities you will find Orthodox Jews there because it has a similar morality to Orthodox Judaism.

Then there’s Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). All men. All men who have problems with specific behaviors. They’re addicted to porn or to strippers or to hookers or to chasing underage girls or to exposing themselves to strangers.

There’s Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. It is mainly men having problem with compulsive sexual patterns such as molesting kids or exposing themselves or committing other sex crimes and the like. It’s similar to SAA.

Then there’s Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). This is men and women dealing with their problems with sex and love in relationships. SLAA is the most relationship-oriented of the 12-step sex addiction programs.

Unlike Sexaholics Anonymous, in Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, you set your own bottom line behaviors you want to abstain from. These 12-step program don’t decree to you at the outset that you must give up porn or masturbation or pre-marital sex or strippers or whatever.

SLAA offers these signposts of sex and love addiction:

Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.

Just loving sex does not make you a sex addict. You’re an addict if you need a fix to get by. So if you’re a guy, you might not be able to get to sleep at night unless you look at porn. Or you might not be able to feel happy unless you are in a sexual relationship. Or you might not be able to relate to attractive women other than trying to get them into bed. Or you might be like me and unable to speak five sentences without straying onto the topic of sex.

If you join a 12-step community, you’ll make friends and it will start to reconfigure your social life. People use the 12-step program as an alternative to other in-house treatment programs, like the ones you find at holistic-rehab-treatment.com. You might find yourself wanting to mainly spend time with people dedicated to recovery rather than addiction. You might find you want to explore other 12-step programs for other addictions in your life such as over-eating or debt or codependency or alcohol or drugs.

Stepping out of a 12-step meeting the other day, I talked to a veteran of these programs. He shared some of my fetishes with how I like women to dress. He said to me, “You know this sex addiction is not our problem. It’s just a symptom of our problem. Our problem is the hole in our soul. Sex addiction is just one of the ways we act out.”

To throw in a Jewish perspective, the addict is somebody who can’t live without God. Many people can live without with God. But the addict has to be connected to God or he will destroy himself pursuing false gods such as sex and love.

I think many people ask the wrong questions about 12-step programs. When I share that I’m going to one for sex addiction, most people say to me, “I don’t think you’re a sex addict.”

I had a former therapist of mine, I saw her for years, tell me as her first reaction to this news, “I don’t think you’re a sex addict.”

Whether or not I am a sex addict is not the relevant question here. The question to ask is — will my life be enhanced by stepping into one of these 12-step programs and working the program?

And I have no doubt the answer is yes.

With regard to 12 step programs, I don’t think it matters much here whether or not you’re a love addict or a sex addict or a debt addict or a gambling addict or a codependent suspect. What matters is whether or not your life would be enhanced by going to a 12 step meeting for Overeaters Anonymous or Debtors Anonymous or CODA or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous.

I am interested in improving my life. I find the honesty in 12 step programs refreshing and almost unique. There aren’t many places where people open up like in a 12 step program. And I think everybody could benefit from working the 12 steps of recovery, and making amends to people you’ve hurt.

Let me give you an analogy. I converted to Orthodox Judaism and yet I am not terribly interested in whether or not every claim that Orthodox Judaism makes is true. I’m not kept awake at night by the Mishna declaring that a man should not talk overmuch with women, including his own wife. I have my doubts that there was a historical Adam and that the world was created 6,000 years ago.

I believe there is divine truth in Orthodox Judaism — more than in any other religion — and I believe that it enhances my life. That’s all I need.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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