Bay Area SAA For Professionals

For Professionals | SAA Meetings

What can your client expect at their first Sex Addicts Anonymous® (SAA) meeting? Below is our description of what it’s often like for newcomers.  We are using pronouns that address the sex addict, for ease of read.

I think I’m a sex addict. Now what?

Coming to the realization that your sexual behaviors are causing pain in your life and that you don’t have control over them is difficult. Admitting that you may have an addiction was hard enough - now you’ve been encouraged to go to an SAA meeting. The prospect of attending a meeting with a bunch of sex addicts can seem overwhelming. We know. We’ve been there.

In SAA meetings we found a fellowship of people of all genders who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so they may overcome their sexual addiction and help others recover from sexual addiction or dependency.

In that setting we heard stories similar to ours and realized that recovery from our problem was possible. We learned in SAA that sober sex addicts can help others recover from sexual addiction because as sex addicts we understand and know the way out as a non-addict cannot.

SAA in not a religious organization. At the meeting you may hear words you’re not familiar with, prayers you may be uncomfortable with, and concepts that may seem foreign to you at first. Do not let this deter you. Keep coming back and it will begin to make sense.

What does an SAA meeting offer me?

Acceptance and Support. You will find that you belong, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, personal beliefs or feelings. You will meet others who have experienced the same or similar issues. You will experience the support and friendship of a caring recovery community. What you won’t find is criticism or judgement.

Hope. No matter what your sexual behaviors are or have been, SAA offers hope of a new way of life, free from compulsive sexual behavior.

Why are Meetings Important?

Meetings give us the opportunity to talk about our addiction and recovery with others who have had similar experiences. By attending your first meeting, you take the crucial step towards moving away from isolation into fellowship, and ultimately into recovery. For many of us, our first meeting was a freeing experience. We felt a sense of relief from carrying the burden of our addiction by ourselves as we sat among others like us and heard their stories. They were, it seemed, telling our story!

I was a little apprehensive about going to my first meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous. I was afraid I’d find a room full of unshaven, drooling perverts in trench coats. What I found instead were perfectly nice, ordinary people who happened to have the same addiction that I have.
      - Voices of Recovery, August 22

 
 

What can I expect at my first meeting?

Being welcomed. Some groups have someone designated to welcome newcomers, while other groups are less structured. Most members recall how difficult it was to come to their first meeting and will try to help you feel comfortable. We recommend that you identify yourself as a newcomer so you will get the resources you need. You may also be offered a group contact list (phone numbers or emails) and pamphlets that have helpful information about sex addiction and the SAA program.

Anonymity. Anonymity is a key part of our program and helps keep the meetings safe for everyone. By practicing anonymity, sex addicts are able to attend meetings without fear of disclosure or discovery. In this spirit, we refer to ourselves by first name and last initial only.

Serenity Prayer. Although SAA is not a religious organization, many meetings open and/or close with the serenity prayer.

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

Introductions. At most meetings, the members will go around the room and introduce themselves by first name only, usually early in the meeting format. You may hear members introduce themselves in a variety of ways, but most simply say “My name is _____, and I’m a sex addict”. You don’t have to identify yourself as a sex addict. It is okay to say “I’m _____ and I’m new” or simply say “pass.”

Readings. Depending upon the meeting format, there may be some short readings at the beginning or end of the meetings, such as the Twelve Steps or Twelve Traditions of SAA. At a literature meeting, there may also be a longer reading from SAA literature. Often, this will be a “shared” activity, where each member will read a paragraph or two. You are always free to pass.

Discussion. Many meetings have a discussion period where members can share on a topic or a reading. Sharing is voluntary, you are not required to speak if you don’t want to. Each group has established its boundaries which describe what is and is not appropriate to say. These serve to protect the members and preserve the group’s health. The boundaries will typically be stated before the meeting is opened for discussion.

Anniversaries. Most meetings also set aside time to recognize those in attendance who have reached a milestone in their recovery. At in-person meetings, they will often be presented with “chips.” Newcomers may be offered a 24-hour or “Welcome” chip.

Closing. There are different ways of closing meetings. Many meetings close with a prayer. At some in-person meetings members may hold hands during the closing prayer. You are not required to participate in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Besides virtual and in-person, are all SAA meetings the same?

No, there are many types of SAA meetings. Some of the most common kinds of meetings are:

  • Closed or for those seeking help: Meetings only for those who identify themselves as sex addicts or believe they may be and have compulsive sexual activities or feelings, and are seeking recovery - no guests or visitors.
  • Open to visitors: Meetings open to anyone
  • Women- or men-only: Meetings that are gender-specific
  • LGBT: Meetings geared towards LGBT individuals
  • ISA: Meetings for those who identify as intimacy or sexual avoidants (sexual anorexics)
  • Mixed: Meetings open to all genders and any sexual identity
  • NOTE REGARDING MINORS: Each SAA group decides for itself, based on local laws and group needs, if it will allow minors to attend. If you are a minor, you will need to ask any group you are interested in attending if they will allow minors in their meeting.

Basic Meeting Guidelines

Here are some helpful hints on etiquette common at SAA meetings that will ensure a positive experience at your first meeting:

  • Silence or shut off your phone.
  • No texting during the meeting.
  • Avoid attire that may be too revealing - be sensitive to others.
  • Avoid side conversations – they can be disruptive to the meeting. If you have questions, talk to someone after the meeting.
  • Do not interrupt or comment when someone else is sharing.
  • If you’re running late, please come into the meeting anyway – just enter as quietly and respectfully as possible.
  • Be mindful of others' personal space - we are careful not to touch or hug anyone without permission.

Tips on Sharing

Following are some tips on sharing that we have found helpful:

  • You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to – we encourage you to listen and learn how other addicts work the program of recovery.
  • We customarily start our shares by introducing ourselves by first name only: “Hi, I’m ______ and I’m a sex addict.” However, you don’t have to identify yourself as an addict until you’re ready.
  • We avoid language that others in the group may find offensive.
  • We avoid explicit descriptions when talking about our addictive behaviors.
  • We do not mention specific people, places, websites or apps related to our “acting out” behaviors.
  • We do not engage in crosstalk (that is, speaking directly to another member or referencing their share specifically). If you want to speak to someone, do so after the meeting.
  • We do not give advice or feedback unless asked.
  • We speak in terms of our own experience.
  • Some groups have set time limits for sharing so please be respectful of the group’s boundaries.

 

 

Bay Area SAA Contact Us

Bay Area SAA newcomer phone lines and email addresses allow your client to discuss one-on-one about the SAA program including basic information about the 12-Steps, how to attend a zoom or phone meeting and what to expect when they get there. The confidential conversation can also walk your client through how to find a meeting. Often, your client can hear first-hand about the experience, strength, and hope SAA offers. Your client can also find information about how to get a sponsor.
(415) 456-1063
Men's newcomer line: (510) 906-1644 | Email Us
Women's newcomer line: (510) 426-6420 (new number) | Email Us
Bay Area Intergroup • P.O. Box 14754 • San Francisco, CA 94114
General Info: info@bayareasaa.org
Información General: espanol@bayareasaa.org
Meeting List Updates/Requests: meetinglist@bayareasaa.org
Women Seeking Recovery: women@bayareasaa.org
GLBTQQI Seeking Recovery: glbt@bayareasaa.org
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