New support group seeks to help those battling sexual obsessions
MARQUETTE — When you think of addiction, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Most people will say drugs, alcohol, maybe gambling.
But what about sex addiction? Believe it or not, this type of addiction does exist. Precisely, nearly 12 million Americans struggle with sexual addiction, according to research from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy published on addictionhope.com.
What can be done about sexual addiction? Much like drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, there are resources and support groups available, including one that meets once weekly in Marquette.
The group, called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, is a 12-step, 12-tradition fellowship based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. The group is a chapter of the national SLAA organization headquartered in San Antonio. It was founded in Boston in 1976.
According to the SLAA website, the program is “For anyone who suffers from an addictive compulsion to engage in or avoid sex, love, or emotional attachment.
“We use the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous to recover from these compulsions. We are united in a common focus: dealing with our addictive sexual and emotional behavior. We find a common denominator in our obsessive/compulsive patterns, which transcends any personal difference of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
SLAA says its members have experienced behaviors such as becoming sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them as a result of having few healthy boundaries; staying in and returning to painful, destructive relationships by fearing abandonment and loneliness; confusing love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued; sexualizing stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy; and retreating from all intimate involement to avoid feeling vulnerable.
The Marquette chapter was formed during the pandemic and operates in a closed meeting format for those who identify as sex and love addicts or think they might be one.
Not sure if you fall under those categories? SLAA’s newcomer packet will help you get started, featuring a series a 40 questions for self-diagnosis, a welcome pamphlet, a pocket toolkit, questions that beginners ask, and more.
Examples from the 40 self-diagnostic questions include: “Do you find yourself unable to stop seeing a specific person even though you know that seeing this person is destructive to you?” “Do you believe that sex and/or a relationship will make your life bearable?” and “Are you unable to concentrate on other areas of your life because of thoughts or feelings you are having about another person or about sex?”
The questions are designed to be used as guidelines to identifying possible signposts of sex and love addiction, according to SLAA. The organization says there’s no sure-fire method of determining whether illness is or is not present.
SLAA says that if reading through the series of questions has brought home to you the fact that your sexual activity, romantic behavior or emotional involvements may be suspect, it wants you to know that you’re not alone.
“Many of us have lived out addictive patterns highlighted by these questions, and have found recovery through Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous,” SLAA reading material states. “If there are regular SLAA meetings in your area, attendance at these meetings will bring you into contact with recovering sex and love addicts.
“Above all, know that recovery is possible, and that a path to recovery does exist which can be shared.”
All literature presented at meetings is SLAA-approved and includes pamphlets featuring topics such as “Measuring Progress,” “Questions Beginners Ask,” “Healthy Relationships: Romantic and Committed Partnership,” “Romantic Obsession,” and more.
As of August, the Marquette chapter has been meeting at 2:30 p.m. each Saturday. Membership is free and the only requirement is “a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction,” SLAA says. Meetings entail sharing “experience, strength and hope” of recovery from sex and love addiction, an environment free from shame, judgement, criticism, manipulation and abuse where members can feel safe to share what they think and feel, full confidentiality, zero interruption or interaction when someone is sharing, and more.
For more information on SLAA’s Marquette chapter, email slaaMarquette@gmail.com. To find out more SLAA’s national organization, visit www.slaafws.org.
Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is email@example.com.