Tools of the Program

Attending Meetings


Meetings, in and of themselves, are not going to keep you sober. They are, nonetheless, an important tool in our recovery kit. Going to meetings offers two great gifts: camaraderie with other sex addicts who are already working the program and, second, the opportunity to carry our message to the sex addict who still suffers.


In meetings, we also have the opportunity to find a sponsor who can guide us through the 12-step process. Many of us suffer from isolation. We have disconnected from other human beings, or made inappropriate connections. We need a safe space to reach out and reconnect in a healthy manner. When we attend healthy meetings, we hear from others their experience, strength, and hope that supports our own recovery.


As the AA Big Book states, “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” Even more surprisingly, when we share our message, many of us have found that the quality of our recovery deepens and our sobriety remains firm.


Keep coming back!





Sponsorship moves our recovery into action. A sponsor provides guidance and support through the process of working the steps as well as the experience of withdrawal. We encourage you to initiate a sponsorship relationship by asking someone with whom you feel you might work well. Don’t be discouraged if you get a few “No’s.” In time you will receive the “Yes” that is meant for you.


When choosing a sponsor, look for someone who has qualities you admire, who has continuous sobriety from Inner-Circle behavior and has ideally completed their Fifth Step. Do not ask someone to whom you are sexually attracted, as this is a bad mix.


Sponsors are not professionals, but are merely sex addicts who have found a way to stay sober and who want to help others. Your sponsor will help you establish your “circles,” discuss expectations. Often as addicts, we have led secret lives. A sponsor is someone we regularly check in with. Sponsors will make suggestions, but you are responsible for your program. Sponsors do have lives; don’t be upset if they are not always available. This is the time to reach out to others in the fellowship.


Honesty, commitment, openness and a willingness to take suggestions are important attitudes for you.


Finding a permanent sponsor may take time. Thus, it is suggested that when you first enter the program you ask someone to be a temporary sponsor, someone who has more sobriety time than you and has completed their First Step. (Sex Addicts Anonymous - Tools of Recovery)



Defining Your Circles


Our goal when entering the SAA program is abstinence from one or more specific sexual behaviors. But unlike programs for recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, Sex Addicts Anonymous does not have a universal definition of abstinence.


Most of us have no desire to stop being sexual altogether. It is not sex in and of itself that causes us problems, but the addiction to certain sexual behaviors. In SAA we will be better able to determine what behavior is addictive and which is healthy. However, the fellowship does not dictate to its members what is and isn't addictive sexual behavior. Instead we have found that it is necessary for each member to define his or her own abstinence, preferably working with a sponsor.


To help us define our sexual sobriety, many of us use a tool developed within SAA called The Three Circles.



















We draw three concentric circles, an inner, middle, and outer circle. With the help of our sponsor or others in recovery, we write down various behaviors in each of the three circles.


In the innermost circle we put the sexual behaviors we want to abstain from, the ones we consider “acting out.” These are the behaviors that we identify, with our sponsor's guidance, as addictive, harmful, or unacceptable for us.


In the middle circle we put behaviors that may lead to acting out, or that we are not sure about.


In the outer circle we put healthy behaviors that enhance our life and our recovery, such as going to meetings and working with a sponsor.


Download Sample Worksheets

SAA Circle Diagram

3 Circle Diagram and Boundaries

Traffic Light



Working the Steps


"But while the SAA fellowship supports our recovery, the actual work of recovery is described in the Twelve Steps. Meetings are forums for learning how to integrate the steps into our lives. Working the Twelve Steps leads to a spiritual transformation that results in sustainable relief from our addiction." (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Second Edition, Page 96)


These steps are the heart of our program. They contain a depth that we could hardly have guessed when we started. Over time, we establish a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, each of us coming to an understanding of a Higher Power that is personal for us.


The SAA program offers a spiritual solution to our addiction, without requiring adherence to any specific set of beliefs or practices.


But the steps are more than a series of exercises. They provide basic principles for living. Most of us find opportunities on a daily basis to apply one or more of the steps to some challenge in our life. Over time, the spiritual principles in the steps become integrated into our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We find that we are not only working the steps — we are living them.



Prayer and Meditation


"SAA is not affiliated with any religion, creed or dogma." (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Second Editin, Page 21)


Some of us come to SAA with limited or no experience with prayer. These are some prayers we have found helpful.



Serenity Prayer


God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


Third Step Prayer


God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy Will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!


— Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63


Third Step Prayer (Alternate Version)


God, I offer myself to you—to build with me and to do with me as you will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do your will. Walk me through my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of your power, your love, and your way of life. May I do your will always!


Seventh Step Prayer


My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me the strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.


— Alcoholics Anonymous, page 76


Eleventh Step Prayer


Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand, rather than to be understood—to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to life. Amen.


— Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 99


Morning Prayer


God, today is a new day for me with you; it can be a day of freedom from sex addiction. With you I can handle anything. I ask for your protection now in case sometime during the day my desire to act out becomes stronger than my desire to stay sober. I know that I am powerless over addictive sexual behavior, and that without you, life itself is unmanageable. I am coming to believe that you can return me to sanity. I am making a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of you. Please guide and sustain me through another day of sobriety so that I may better do your will, and help my fellow addict. God, I need you.


Unity Prayer


I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness. No longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for a power and strength greater than ours; and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.





Personal service, one addict helping another, is the most essential way we carry our recovery message. (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Second Edition, Page 75)


Service is a foundational principle of the Twelve Step Program, and opportunities for service abound at multiple levels.


We serve one another through friendship, sponsorship, and accountability. In this way we help each other recover.


We serve our local groups…

  • By making sure we have places to meet that are safe and comfortable.

  • By stocking program literature and supplies to be readily available for newcomers and members.

  • By chairing meetings, setting up and taking down, making coffee, keeping the treasury.

  • By serving as temporary sponsors or long-term sponsors.


We serve our local intergroup…

  • By answering the SAA phone line or SAA email messages.

  • By serving on one of our local service committees or as an intergroup representative or office.


We serve the fellowship-at-large…

  • By representing the local fellowship at the international conference.

  • By participating on regional, national, and international boards and committees in support of the fellowship.


Service is, indeed, the engine that drives recovery from addiction at all levels within SAA.



SAA Literature


Reading recovery literature is another important tool of the program. It helps to educate, motivate, and inspire us. Reading SAA literature helps us learn how to stay sober and work a recovery program specifically tailored for us. (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Second Edition, Page 64)


Sex Addicts Anonymous (Green Book)

Sex Addicts Anonymous – A Pathway to Recovery

The Bubble – A Metaphor for Addictive Sexual Behavior

Three Circles – Defining Sexual Sobriety in SAA


Getting a Sponsor

SAA and the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Sex Addict

A Special Welcome to the Woman Newcomer (from other women members of SAA)

Safe and Sexually Sober Meetings – Helping Women Feel Welcome in Your Meeting

Sexual Sobriety and the Internet

Recovery from Compulsive Sexual Avoidance – A Return to Intimacy

First Step to Recovery – A Guide to Working the First Step

Getting Started in Sex Addicts Anonymous (a beginner’s packet for recovering sex addicts)

Tools of Recovery – A Practical Guide for New Members of SAA

Writing to Prisoners – Recovery Through Outreach in SAA

Abstinence and Boundaries in SAA – Tools for Recovery



Other Literature


A Gentle Path through the 12 Steps by Patrick Carnes

Hope and Recovery

AA Big Book

Facing the Shadow Workbook by Patrick Carnes

The Life Recovery Bible (a Christian Centered Approach) by Stephen Arterburn and David Stood

2010 - present

2010 - present