Abstinence, Sobriety, and the Three Circles

"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, p. 20

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 what 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.

The Three Circles of SAA

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, consisting of 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 inner 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.

More information about abstinence, sobriety, and The Three Circles is available in Sex Addicts Anonymous and pamphlets available online through the SAA Store or by telephone or postal mail from the ISO office.

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Confidentiality Statement “Be advised that under Texas State law, disclosures of abuse or neglect of minors must be reported to the authorities. SAA staff can provide more information on reporting and disclosure issues.”

The 12 Steps

  1. We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behavior - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other sex addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.

The 12 Traditions

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon S.A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for S.A.A. membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or S.A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the sex addict who still suffers.
  6. An S.A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the S.A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every S.A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Sex Addicts Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. S.A.A., as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Sex Addicts Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the S.A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.