Welcome to SAA! We commend you on taking this step in your recovery journey. Please know that we have all been where you are now, so trust us when we say, we get it. We also know how overwhelming things can be at first, so we have developed a checklist below to help you get started:
- Start attending SAA meetings. You can’t get it if you don’t show up! Click here to find a meeting near you. If you can’t find a meeting in your area, attend an online meeting (in the meetings list, filter by type and look for “online”). Most experienced sponsors will recommend a minimum of 2-3 meetings per week, for at least the first 90 days. Some people require 7 meetings a week i.e. 90 meetings in 90 days. When this is done, newcomers get their first moments of clarity.
- Read this SAA booklet: Getting Started in SAA
- Find a sponsor. Find someone who has what you want and ask them. If the first person says no, ask someone else. Don’t give up. Read this SAA pamphlet for more details: Getting a Sponsor
- With the help of your sponsor, and others in recovery, define what your acting out behavior(s) are. Also define risky behaviors that could lead you to act out, as well as healthy behaviors, which will help you live a balanced life. Use the The 3 Circles as your guide to achieve this.
- Read Sex Addicts Anonymous – (Green Book) and Tools of Recovery.
- Start working the 12 Steps ASAP. With your sponsor’s help, start doing written step work, in order, starting with step 1, question 1. Here is a guide to Step 1.
- Start connecting with a Higher Power or God. This is a spiritual program, so it is important we begin the process of bringing our concept of a Higher Power or God into our lives. If you do not believe in a Higher Power or God, don’t worry, many of us didn’t when we started. We recommend reading these SAA pamphlets: What If I Don’t Believe in “God”? and Personal Spirituality in SAA.
- Start a daily check in by phone (not by email) with your sponsor. Check in about the day’s highs and lows, paying attention to the feelings that arose as you went about your day. The events are important, but not nearly as much as your reactions and the feelings accompanying them.
- Start practicing honesty and accountability, especially in meetings and with your sponsor. If you have slipped or relapsed, it is important to be honest about it. Remember, secrets keep us sick!
- Start reaching out to your sponsor and others in recovery when you feel like acting out. Some groups have phone lists of members or use WhatsApp and other platforms to communicate. Reaching out for help can be daunting at first, but it does get easier.
- Don’t listen to your head when you are triggered. It is a bad neighborhood and you shouldn’t go there alone! Remember your best thinking got you here.
- When attending meetings, listen carefully to others in the meeting. We learn from each other’s experience, strength and hope. We also grow from supporting our fellow addicts and empathizing with them.
- When attending meetings, share about your own life and experiences. This may seem daunting at first, however, there is no judgment within our groups. You also never know who else in the meeting might benefit from hearing your share.
- Get rid of all pornography, as well as ways to potentially access it. This includes the deletion of all sexually explicit websites and links from your devices. This also includes material that is sexually suggestive (e.g. lingerie catalogues) and may also include certain social media websites (especially those that allow sexually explicit material on the platform). Read this SAA pamphlet for more details: Sexual Sobriety and the Internet.
- Consider purchasing porn blocking software for your devices. Ask fellow members of SAA which software has worked for them.
- Break all connections with acting out partners. No exceptions! Delete contacts or block them if you need to. Get rid of any photos you have of them. These are not healthy relationships and never will be!
- Avoid places, people and media that may trigger you to act out. This may require you to end certain relationships or friendships, change your driving routes or avoid watching films or TV series which contain nudity or sex scenes.
- Don’t contact ex-acting out partners. If they should contact you, firmly demand that they do not contact you in any way ever again.
- Don’t visit places, websites, apps or media that usually play any part in your acting out. Your addictive thinking might try and convince you otherwise but there is absolutely no reason or excuse for you to do so. Also don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can handle it now. Many of us have tried to “test” ourselves and the addictive thinking has won.
- Find solutions to close loopholes. If your addictive thinking is trying to find loopholes, speak to your sponsor about it and, with the help of your sponsor, develop a strategy to close those loopholes.
- Many of us in the fellowship have benefited from seeking guidance from therapists, psychiatrists and addiction specialists. Ask other members of SAA if they have any recommendations. Remember, your mental health is important!
- Start practicing healthy activities. You can use The 3 Circles to define these (i.e. your outer circle). These can include physical exercise, hobbies, meditation, family time, spending time with friends (acting out partners are not friends!) etc.
- With the help of your sponsor and others in recovery, define your version of healthy sexuality and start practicing it. We recommend reading this SAA pamphlet: Developing Our Own Healthy Sexuality in SAA. Remember, it is not sex in and of itself that causes us problems, but the addiction to certain sexual behaviors.
- If you struggle with compulsive sexual avoidance, we recommend reading these SAA pamphlets: Intimacy Avoidance and An Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance-Focused First Step Guide.
- Take your recovery 1 step and 1 day at a time. Sometimes we may even need to take it 1 second at a time. Work on the solution, not the problem and concentrate on doing the next right thing.
Some useful acronyms and phrases to remember:
- The Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Cunning, baffling and powerful. This is how many of us describe the disease of our addiction.
- One day at a time. This is how many of us approach recovery.
- Progress, not perfection. None of us are perfect, so don’t try to be. Work your recovery as best you can.
- H.A.L.T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. If you are experiencing one or a combination of these, you may be in danger of acting out.
- S.L.I.P. Sobriety Loses Its Priority and S.L.I.P. Still Learning I’m Powerless. Remember that slips are avoidable and most of the time optional. You don’t have to slip, unless you want to!
- F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. Recovery takes courage. Don’t allow fear to keep you from living in recovery.
- S.H.A.M.E. SomeHow All Madness Ends. Shame dies on exposure, so don’t allow shame to prevent you seeking the help you need.
Please note that the above information was developed by members of the South African Intergroup of Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAISAA) and is not official Sex Addicts Anonymous literature. Nothing in the above should be taken as the support of, opposition to or endorsement of an issue, cause or organization outside of the SAA fellowship. The views and opinions expressed in the above are those of members of SAISAA and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sex Addicts Anonymous.