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Sexual Sobriety: Recovering from Sex Addiction

Sexual SobrietyMaking the discovery that you are a sex addict usually is facilitated by a pivotal experience that brings to light behaviors that were shameful or secretive. Often the person’s life grinds to a halt. Faced with some sort of loss, there is a realization that one’s sexual behaviors have become unmanageable and important steps need to be taken toward healing.

Therapy can be an important first step, and finding a therapist with experience treating sex addiction is crucial.

Additionally, long-term sobriety requires the addict to enter a 12-step program, such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) or SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) and work the 12 steps, as established originally by the AA program (Alcoholics Anonymous). Finding a good meeting to attend can create a space for the addict to connect with others in recovery, and is arguably, the most crucial step in starting the recovery process. Developing a support network of like-minded individuals who are transforming their lives through the 12 steps is a powerful way to heal from sex addiction.

Moreover, using fellowship activities — that is, spending quality time with other recovering sex addicts outside of meetings — is a great way to get to know others in the recovery community, and gather support for this difficult, yet incredibly worthwhile work.

Newcomers to 12-step programs commonly enter with feelings of apprehension and distrust, wondering if the program is going to be a good fit for them and if it will be able to provide the help and support the addict needs in early recovery. Therefore, spending time with members outside of the meetings is a wonderful way to get to know peers in the program and challenge assumptions and fears.

While regular meeting attendance is of the utmost importance, active participation in the 12-step program is where the work of recovery happens. A bedrock of 12-step programs revolves around giving back, otherwise known as “being of service.”

Addiction happens in isolation and is always self-centered. Participating in community activities and being of service is the polar opposite of the latter state. “Addicts helping other addicts” is the key to the success of 12-step programs.

If the addict is in a partnership, and the partner has chosen to step into recovery with the recovering addict, the likelihood of the relationship’s success increases exponentially. Initially, partners of sex addicts may feel resistance to getting help, but they are usually in crisis, and in need of help. Groups like COSA (a 12-step group for partners and others affected by sex addiction) can help.

Partners also may wish to seek their own individual therapy with a therapist versed in sex addiction. It is a positive step toward being able to unravel the pain of discovery.

Sexual Sobriety: Recovering from Sex Addiction

Alexandra Katehakis, Ph.D., MFT, CST, CSAT

Alexandra Katehakis, PhD, MFT, CST, CSAT is the founder and Clinical Director of Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, where she and her staff successfully treat a full spectrum of sexual disorders, ranging from issues of sexual desire and dysfunction to the treatment of sexual addiction. She is the author of Erotic Intelligence: Igniting Hot, Healthy Sex While in Recovery from Sex Addiction and co-author of Making Advances: A Comprehensive Guide for Treating Female Sex and Love Addicts. Her free Daily Meditations on healthy sex and love are open to the public. Since 2006, Ms. Katehakis has studied affective neuroscience with Allan N. Schore, incorporating regulation theory into her treatment of sexual addiction. Alex is the 2012 recipient of the Carnes Award, a prestigious acknowledgement for her contributions to the field of sex addiction.

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APA Reference
Katehakis, A. (2018). Sexual Sobriety: Recovering from Sex Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 2 Apr 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.