Twelve-Step Sexual Recovery Groups Q&A

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I am concerned about being seen at these meetings and people talking about me because I have been there. How private is a 12-step sexual recovery meeting?

While it is true that the meetings are not bound to the same level of confidentiality as a therapy group, all participants of 12-step programs are committed to anonymity as a part of their own healing process. Furthermore, the people who see you there don’t want to be talked about outside the meeting any more than you do.

I don’t want to have to talk about myself publicly. Will they make me do this?

Other than introducing yourself by your first name only, participation in 12-step meetings is entirely voluntary.

I have heard that a lot of freaks and sex offenders go to these meetings. Is that true? My problems haven’t really hurt anybody other than myself, and I don’t think I will feel comfortable around a bunch of sex offenders.

A wide range of people attend sex and love addiction 12-step recovery meetings, from those who are court-mandated to those whose behaviors harm only themselves. And believe it or not, there is something to be gained from hearing almost everyone’s story at the meetings.

I have heard that there is a lot of emphasis in these meetings on religion. I don’t feel comfortable with all that God stuff, and I certainly don’t want to trade my sexual problems for being involved in a cult. What’s the deal with this?

Twelve-step groups are not cults and they do not espouse any particular belief system. They do, however, use phrases like “higher power” and “a power greater than ourselves” to help addicts put their faith in something beyond their own best thinking. The word “God” is also used, usually followed by the words “as we understand God,” which creates a lot of leeway for those who struggle with organized religion and the “God of their childhood.” References to “God” are not in any way directed toward a specific religion or belief system.

I hear that more people get picked up for sex in those meetings than get well. Is that true?

If you go to a 12-step meeting looking for the support of people who have long periods of sexual healing—people who can and will lend you a helping hand—then that is what you will find. If you go to a 12-step meeting in hookup mode, you may be able to persuade someone to be sexual with you. In general, however, the meetings are safe, supportive places.

What is a sponsor and how do I choose one?

Sponsors are personal guides to healing and staying sober. Typically, a sponsor is someone of the same gender who has been in recovery long enough to have achieved some success. He or she should be active in the recovery meetings and have worked through the twelve steps. You choose a sponsor by listening to various people at meetings until you hear someone whose message resonates with you. When you find someone you connect with, you simply approach that person before or after a meeting and ask, “Are you available to be a sponsor and, if so, would you like to have coffee and hear my story?” If that person says no, don’t take it personally or give up; just ask someone else.