Which Fellowship Should I Join?

When someone wants to join a 12-step fellowship for alcoholism, they join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with various drug addictions, they join NA (Narcotics Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with eating disorders, they join OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with sex addiction, they join SA (Sexaholics Anonymous).  Or do they join SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous)? Or do they join SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous)?  Or do they join SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous)?  Maybe they join more than one.  Maybe they attend open AA meetings instead.  Maybe they join a Christian program like Celebrate Recovery which combines the teachings of the Bible with the steps and principles of AA to work on all addictive behavior (N.b.: This is a non-denominational program founded by a Protestant pastor, John Baker, of Saddleback Church).

There are several things to consider when joining a fellowship:

  • Does this group conform to my beliefs, worldview, and addictive needs?
  • Is there a face-to-face group nearby, or would I have to rely on telephone, Skype, or internet chat meetings?
  • Are the members of the groups I’ve attended friendly, and do they have lasting sobriety?
  • Are the people in the groups willing to help sponsor me?

I can help with the first question.  The other 3 depend on where you live and the people you meet.

Sexaholics Anonymous’s abstinence statement conforms the best to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  It considers any sex outside of a heterosexual marriage, including masturbation, to violate your sobriety.  Sexual Compulsives Anonymous was founded as a break-away group in order to be inclusive of homosexual addicts.

Sex Addicts Anonymous is similar to SCA and it is a larger fellowship.  Many SA groups have come to SAA in recent months due to the controversy over the abstinence statement.  SAA does not prescribe a universal abstinence statement.  It allows each member, with the help of his or her sponsor, to develop a sex plan: a written list of behaviors not to engage in.  This is usually done by means of the three circles.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is also similar to SAA, but it has a special focus on intimacy addiction.  Many members of SLAA are driven to seek the high that comes from a new romantic encounter, and not necessarily sex itself.  You may have heard this as “being in love with falling in love.”  I have heard that there are more women in SLAA than the other fellowships, but I do not have any facts to back this up.

My personal preference

I attend mostly SAA meetings.  That is largely due to the fact that SAA was the first meeting that I attended and that there are a lot of SAA meetings where I live.

However, Sexaholics Anonymous conforms best to my beliefs about sex, its purpose, and what sexual sobriety looks like.  My personal sex plan conforms to the SA abstinence statement.  That being said, I think you can be a good Catholic and join any of the fellowships.  What matters more is that you are following what God wants for you, not you trying to force God’s will on others.

While SA conforms to my beliefs about sexuality better, SAA fits my beliefs about recovery.  I do not see the benefit of telling a sex addict who is a homosexual or transgendered person to go away (and make no mistake, that is what they hear from SA).  They still need help from their addictive behavior, even if I don’t approve of their non-addictive behavior.

All this being said, I have attended SAA meetings, SA meetings, SLAA meetings, and web-based SCA meetings.  I take advantage of them all.

If no S-fellowship meetings are in your area, consider going to an open AA meeting.  At open meetings, you do not need to have a problem with alcohol.  The steps are still basically the same, and you can still find recovery there.

Finally, church-based groups like Celebrate Recovery can be helpful.  Keep in mind that Protestant groups, depending on the church that’s hosting them and the individual members you meet, may try to convince you to leave the Catholic Church.  If this occurs, I strongly urge you to find another group.