what is sexaholism?

If this is your first contact with a Twelve Step programme, we ask that you try not to analyse, diagnose, or label another person's behaviour. The most important thing for us to know, as S-Anon members, is that sexaholism is an addiction just like any other addiction - with the same elements of loss of control, tendency to continue the damaging behaviour despite negative consequences, and the need to do more of the behaviour to get the same result. Also, like other addictions, sexaholism affects the whole family.  

No matter what manifestation of sexaholism you may have encountered in a relative or friend, we assure you that you are not alone. We have included a partial list of behaviours that other S-Anons have been affected by over the years. The list is meant to offer newcomers a way to know they are not isolated in the problems of living with or having lived with active sexaholism. You may or may not have encountered any or all of the following: sexual affairs with women or men, sex with prostitutes or other strangers, telephone sex or other use of the electronic media, compulsive use of pornography or masturbation, fantasy, voyeurism, exhibitionism, masochism, sadism, sexual violence, withholding sex, sex with animals, sex with children in or outside of the family, or something else - we assure you that you are not alone. When you talk with S-Anon members, you will find others who have lived with the same types of sexaholic behaviours. Even if you feel unique in your local S-Anon group, you can be certain that someone in the S-Anon fellowship has also had similar experiences and feelings.

In S-Anon we consider sexaholic behaviours to be symptoms of a disease - unacceptable actions taken by sick people who are powerless over lust. Through working the S-Anon programme, many of us have overcome powerful feelings, which are not ours to carry, of shame or guilt that arose out of being so closely connected to this 'shameful' disease. We have come to understand and accept that we are not responsible for the actions of others and that those burdens of shame and guilt are not rightfully ours to carry. Our solution depends on keeping focused on our own personal path of recovery and allowing the sexaholic to do the same.

Reprinted with permission of S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc., Nashville, TN.