Sex Addicts Anonymous
by International Service Organization of SAA, Inc.
Sex addiction is different from substance addiction because the user is not necessarily addicted to sex, but rather specific sexual behaviors. There is hope. You don’t have to swear off intimacy forever.
So how do you strike the proper balance? How do you identify what will trigger a relapse, and what sexual activities you can enjoy safely? And how do you avoid setting your own standards so high, you’re only setting yourself up for failure?
Abstinence After Sex Addiction
Identifying your unique approach to abstinence is best done with the assistance of a more mature sex addict, such as an organizational sponsor, and a professional Christian counselor. Caring observers can help you identify weaknesses you may not have noticed, or been reluctant to admit. They can also offer helpful guidance about how to best avoid your specific sexual temptations.
1. Examine Your Sexual Behavior
Which behaviors do you repeatedly pursue that make you feel shame, and/or violate the rights of others? Which behaviors do you find yourself using as coping mechanisms or pick-me-ups during times of distress? These are the activities you want to keep in mind as you complete the next step.
2. Chart Your Weaknesses
Take a piece of paper, and draw three concentric circles. Try to make them roughly proportional to one another, with the outermost filling most of the page.
These are the most harmful instances of “acting out” your addiction. They are your biggest weaknesses. The activities or environments you absolutely must abstain from to avoid acting out. They may be harmful to yourself or others, run you the risk of criminal charges, or be financially unsustainable.
These are less risky behaviors. They may cause you to act out; they may not. It may depend on the conditions. Think of them as the behaviors you would put a question mark next to while making the list for the previous circle. You may need to avoid them in times of emotional distress or difficulty.
These are acceptable behaviors. They pose no risk of acting out. On the contrary, they enhance your life and recovery.
3. Attitude Regarding Abstinence
Keep in mind that these categories are not set in stone. You may need to avoid certain behaviors forever, but that is not true for everything. Think of it like being on a diet. You abstain from certain foods in order to achieve a certain health goal. You may want to slim down, weaken sugar cravings, or bulk up for a certain fitness regimen. But it doesn’t mean you eat like that forever.
It’s the same with sex addiction-related abstinence. You establish certain boundaries because that is what you need under the current circumstances. But that may change in the future as you learn more about your unique challenges, and as your approach to sex changes with time.
While your system of abstinence is not set in stone, that doesn’t mean you should change it whenever the mood strikes you. After all, that slippery slope is how you became so embedded in your problems in the first place. If you feel it’s time for you to move any behaviors outward in the chart, consider consulting the advice of a more mature sex addict, or a professional Christian counselor first. They can help you determine whether you are truly mature enough for the change, or if you’re just trying to cheat on your diet.
Christian Counseling and Sexual Abstinence
If you struggle with sex addiction, or are unsure how to go about establishing your own abstinence regimen, consider getting in touch with a professional Christian counselor. They will use biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you understand your unique addictive weaknesses, and how to modify your approach to sex to avoid relapse.
“Walking Away,” Courtesy of Korry B, Image ID 1418812, Freeimages.com; “Days of Summer,” by Suketu Gajjar, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)