S-Anon International Family Groups

Our Common Experience

The following reflects the experience of recovering S-Anon members.  If you come to meetings you will hear these issues discussed, and if you can't come to meetings, the information may help to guide you in a direction that will be positive for you.

Read what some S-Anon members remember about their first meetings.


  1. We did not have to wait for the sexaholic to seek help before we took action to help ourselves.  Anyone who is close to a sexaholic who is acting out is under constant emotional strain and pressure, and we need help just as much as the sexaholic does, perhaps more.
  2. Nothing gave most of us greater relief than the understanding and warm-hearted help we found in an S-Anon Family Group.  S-Anon is a fellowship of people who can be compassionate because they have first-hand knowledge of the problems of living with sexaholism.  For some of us, meetings were not comfortable at first.  We felt embarassed, ashamed, confused and angry, but we were reminded that we were not the only ones with a sexaholic relative or friend and that our situation was not hopeless.  The best thing we ever did for ourselves was to "keep coming back".
  3. We learned more about addiction and its impact on family members and friends. This helped us to understand that sexaholism is a disease – an addiction similar to alcoholism – and it helped us to develop a more realistic attitude about it. We gained some understanding of why the addict does what he or she does, and realized that we were not responsible for their behavior.
  4. Talking to people who share the same problems convinced us at the gut level that sexaholism is a disease, not a moral issue, and that sexaholics are sick people, not bad people. This knowledge led us away from self-pity, over-reaction and critical condemnation – all self-defeating attitudes. We realized that we did not have to take it personally if the sexaholic blamed us for the lusting. We stopped blaming ourselves, and/or using drugs, alcohol or other compulsive behavior to “escape” from feelings of guilt and self-hatred. We were greatly comforted by the three Cs: we didn’t Cause it, we can’t Control it, and we can’t Cure it.
  5. We could not force the sexaholic to stop lusting. If he or she did not want to stop, it did no good to search for clues, try to catch him or her acting out, hide or throw out pornography, argue, plead or make threats we were not prepared to carry out. We only made it easier for the sexaholic to continue his or her behavior when we covered up problems caused by the acting out or took on more than our share of responsibility. Some of us found that positive changes in our own attitudes and actions helped the sexaholic to want to stop, but we learned that we cannot expect to change anyone except ourselves. Paradoxically, the best thing we ever did for the sexaholic was to take positive action on our own behalf.
  6. Not only is the sexaholic emotionally involved with the disease; so are all members of the family. It was important to find someone other than a relative to confide in and to be as honest with that person as possible, both about our situation and about our own feelings.
  7. Even if the sexaholic in our life was in recovery, for most of us things did not get better overnight. We had been living with the disease for many years, and no matter how eager we were to make a fresh start, it took time to sort through the problems created by past behavior and rebuild trust. We sometimes say, “Recovery is a process, not an event” to remind ourselves that being in recovery does not mean an immediate end to longstanding problems.
  8. We realized we had gifts, talents and abilities that were hidden and undeveloped as long as we concentrated obsessively on the sexaholic and his or her problems. We committed ourselves to the S-Anon program, hung on to our faith in the Higher Power of our understanding, detached ourselves emotionally from the problems of the sexaholic, and started to use our talents in ways that interested us. We began to be gentle with ourselves, and to take care of our own physical, emotional and spiritual needs, trusting that recovery is possible for each of us, no matter what other people do or say.  Read more about the gifts we receive from working the S-Anon program.


This page was last modified on 12/5/15.