Why Should I Follow the 12 Steps Recovery from Sex Addiction?

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The main reason you should follow a 12 step program to treat sex addiction is because such programs, based on techniques pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, have been known to work. Although there is little in the way of solid, scientific data showing recovery rates on people who went through a 12 step program, 12 step programs such as SA, SAA and SLAA offer hope to those struggling with sex addiction.

Each 12 step group is different. Alcoholics Anonymous published its 12 step program in 1939, and since then the basic template has been refined and adapted to treat other compulsive behaviors including sex addiction, drugs, gambling, etc. SA, SAA and SLAA are each based on the model pioneered by AA and each are a little different. Each meeting a sex addict attends will also be a little different. Don’t make a determination that 12 step programs don’t work based on one meeting or one group. It works if you decide to work it. Each “S” program involve a person admitting they have no control over their sexual behaviors, their lives had become unmanageable and turning their life over to a higher power, thus becoming more introspective.

Those people who attend a few meetings and leave have very little chance of succeeding in recovery. Those who persevere and attend meetings even when they’re struggling are the ones who achieve sobriety and remain sober for longer periods.

12 step programs offer a way for people to re-build their lives. It’s a path to right and healthy living. Face it, while a sex addict is actively involved in their sexually obsessive and compulsive and often dangerous behaviors, their life is not manageable, it’s not healthy and it’s not in sync with healthy good living.

According to www.12step.com, critics of 12 steps programs cite a 5 percent success rate, while groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous have argued success to be closer to 50 percent, and 25 percent after relapses. The debate has gone on for years, since the early 1940s, with proponents touting success and critics claiming their information is misleading and designed to bolster a treatment industry.

What I can tell you is people who attend 12 step meetings for sex addiction, get a sponsor and work the steps find a new way of living. 

So why should a sex addict bother if even the experts can’t agree on whether a 12 step program works or not? According to www.hazelden.org, a 1998 study done on 12 step alcoholic programs showed the program does have an effect on people whose social networks supported their drinking habit. This would indicate that the people surrounding the addicts had influence over their behavior.

A 12 step program puts a sex addict in a group that is not going to facilitate their addictive behavior. The addict will also be able to see other people with an addiction and compare their life to the others, perhaps realizing something they did not before. It will put the sex addict in contact with people who have reported recovery so they can see there is hope. It also lets a sex addict learn from others, using their techniques for dealing with urges and addressing problems in their life.

One very important component of the 12 step program is forcing a sex addict to look at their own life and behaviors. Two of the 12 steps involve the addict taking an inventory of their actions, both before the midpoint and after, and showing it to someone else, someone they trust. This is especially helpful for people who are not normally very introspective or self-conscious. A 12 step program makes a sex addict take a look at themselves from different angles, and once an addict does that they can often find ways to manage their addiction.

It should be noted that a sex addict is going to have to define success for themselves, and that they may carry with them their entire lives some behaviors learned from the 12 step program, , namely the self-examination aspects. For the program to work, the addict program needs to stick to it; someone looking to be “cured” quickly is likely to be disappointed.

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