If this is your first contact with a Twelve-Step program, you may have some questions about what we do at meetings and how our group works. We will try to answer some of those questions here, but please feel free to contact the S-Anon International Family Groups World Service Office at (800) 210-8141, or send an e-mail to [email protected], if there is anything you don’t understand. You may then be referred to a volunteer who can talk with you at greater length about S-Anon, and who will strive to respond within one week.
Who comes to S-Anon?
What happens at meetings? Do I have to say anything?
How will S-Anon help me?
Will anyone say I’ve been to an S-Anon meeting?
Is this some kind of religious program?
Who runs this group?
How much will this cost?
Now what do I do?
Q. Who comes to S-Anon?
A. Before we went to an S-Anon meeting, some of us had some interesting or fearful ideas about who we might see there, but S-Anon members are people from all walks of life: wives, husbands, lovers, sisters, brothers, children and parents of sexaholics. We are simply people whose lives have been deeply affected by another person’s sexaholism. We meet together to share our experience, strength and hope in order to solve our common problems. Our Third Tradition states, “The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of sexaholism in a relative or friend.” This means that you decide if you qualify for S-Anon; your membership in S-Anon is not determined for you by any rules of the fellowship or of the meetings you choose to attend.
You may have heard of other Twelve-Step groups that offer help to friends and relatives of sexaholics. Although they are separate entities, each “family” group cooperates with a particular recovery program for sexaholics; S-Anon cooperates with Sexaholics Anonymous. However, it is important to note that regardless of which recovery program (if any) your relative or friend attends, you are welcome at S-Anon meetings.
Q. What happens at meetings? Do I have to say anything?
A. Meetings provide a safe place to say what is in our hearts and on our minds, but there is no need to say anything about your situation until you feel comfortable doing so. You are free to just listen, especially at your first meeting. It is customary at most meetings to go around the room introducing ourselves by first name only. There will probably be some reading from S-Anon conference-approved literature, that is, material which focuses on the S-Anon approach to recovery. (Conference-approved literature includes only material published by S-Anon, Sexaholics Anonymous, Al-Anon or AA.)
A topic will probably be introduced. Sometimes, the meeting leader will call on those who indicate they want to speak. Other groups decide to have members share in turn by going around in a circle, or use other methods to give each member an equal time to share. We give each other the opportunity to speak without interruption, avoiding “cross-talk” (give-and-take discussion, or any comments directed at other members) or advice-giving. If members wish to receive feedback about issues they share during the meeting, they can state during their sharing that feedback would be welcome after the meeting has closed. We share what is in our hearts, and focus on listening to others so we can gain insight into our own problems. We try to watch the length of time we speak so that everyone present will have an opportunity to share if they wish to. When the sharing is finished, the leader closes the meeting, and people usually stay for a few minutes after the meeting to talk with each other. Some meetings have a custom of going to a nearby restaurant for coffee or a snack after the meeting.
Not all you hear at any particular meeting will pertain to you. That is why we say “Take what you liked and leave the rest.” That is also why we suggest you attend at least six meetings before you decide whether S-Anon is for you.
Q. How will S-Anon help me?
A. The people you hear at meetings may not have the same set of circumstances as your own, but you will probably be able to identify with some of their feelings. In S-Anon we discover that there is hope for changing our own lives. We hear others, who were once in the same or even worse situations, tell how they are solving their problems and growing into the people they want to be. We learn from other members how they used the S-Anon program and principles to solve problems similar to those we are now facing. Whether or not our friends or relatives ever seek recovery, becoming aware of our own self-defeating behavior in a safe environment like S-Anon is a major step toward freedom and recovery.
Q. Will anyone say I’ve been to an S-Anon meeting?
A. It is very important to all S-Anon members to respect each other’s anonymity; it is the key to feeling safe to share whatever we need to share. We should not discuss who we see at meetings, or what is said there, even with our partners. In S-Anon we use first names and last initials only, unless it is our choice to tell someone our full name. We should never reveal the identity of another S-Anon or SA member without that person’s consent.
Q. Is this some kind of religious program?
A. No. Like all Twelve-Step programs, S-Anon is spiritual, not religious. It is spiritual in the sense that we come to depend upon a Power greater than ourselves – a Power that we are free to define as we wish – to help us to solve our problems and achieve peace of mind. The Twelve Steps contain principles that are universal, applicable to everyone, so it is not necessary to practice any religion at all in order to put them into practice. S-Anon is meant to be helpful to everyone, regardless of their particular faith, so at meetings we avoid discussion of specific religious faiths, beliefs, and publications (such as the Bible, Koran, etc.). You will hear people use the terms God or Higher Power. As with other Twelve Step programs, S-Anon can work for those who are very religious, and for those who have no formal concept of God or a Higher Power. Some people use the S-Anon group as their Higher Power, because the group is a power greater than themselves.
Q. Who runs this group?
A. All of us do, but we have group leaders or chairpersons who are chosen by the group for short periods of time to help things run smoothly. We do not have any authorities or experts, and no one person speaks for S-Anon. If professional therapists attend S-Anon meetings, they do so as people whose lives have been affected by the sexaholism of a relative or friend, not in a professional capacity.
Q. How much will this cost?
A. There are no dues or fees to be a member of S-Anon. We pass a basket at meetings and people voluntarily contribute what they can afford. The money is used to pay rent for the meeting place, provide S-Anon conference-approved literature for the group, and to support the S-Anon World Service Office (WSO). We do not solicit or accept outside contributions.
Q. Now what do I do?
A. If you decide to seek recovery in S-Anon, you may wish to adopt the following suggestions which have proven to be helpful to S-Anon members in recovery throughout our program’s history.
Attend as many meetings as possible, especially for your first few months in the program. The cities of meeting locations can be found on our Meeting Locations page. Specific meeting locations within these cities can be obtained by contacting the S-Anon International Family Groups World Service Office, or in some cases, by calling an area information line. Or you may send an e-mail to [email protected] to other members, both before and after meetings. Exchange phone numbers with willing members, and commit yourself to keeping in touch with at least one other person.After awhile you may wish to ask someone who has been in the program for some time to be your “sponsor”. A sponsor is a special friend with whom you can share details, some of which may be either too involved or inappropriate for sharing at meetings, about your situation and your personal feelings and who can provide you with suggestions and guidance in your recovery journey.Between meetings you may find it helpful to read conference-approved literature. Further suggestions are offered by reading “Our Common Experience” which reflects the experience of recovering S-Anon members.Back to question list.