New York Pathways - Treatment and Therapy for Sexual Addiction 

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The Truth About 12-Step Meetings

Our experience has shown that 12-Step meetings are vital to the long-term success of a recovering sex addict. 12-Step meetings geared toward sex addiction help sex addicts not only achieve sobriety, but learn life skills that lead to a more meaningful life. Unfortunately, many sex addicts are initially reluctant to attend 12-Step meetings for various reasons. Let's address some of the common questions and concerns that may prevent someone from attending a meeting.

What happens in a 12-Step Meeting?
12-Step meetings typically have different formats. Sometimes a group member will start the meeting by sharing his or her story for about 10-15 minutes. Sometimes a particular passage from recovery literature is read to start the meeting. About once a month a business meeting is held to deal with financial matters, address any concerns group members have, and elect trusted servants. All meetings involve an opportunity for group members to share for three to five minutes.

Do I have to identify myself?
No. There are no rules in 12-Step meetings. You do not have to identify yourself. You do not have to put money in the basket. You are free to come and go as you please. It is a voluntary group of men and women who come together to help each other stay sexually sober.

Do I have to speak at the meeting?
No. You can go and just listen. Even experienced members of 12-Step meetings sometimes just decide to listen. You will find, though, that sharing with the group is not only therapeutic, but also helps other recovering sex addicts stay sober.

Do they cost money?
Each 12-Step meeting takes a small break to collect money in order to pay for expenses such as rent and literature. You do not have to give any money. One of the things the treasurer often says is "Please give if you can. But if you can't, just keep coming. We need you more than your money." People who put money into the basket typically put in one to three dollars depending on the rent of the particular room.

Will what I say be kept confidential?
Anonymity forms the backbone of 12-Step fellowships. Without it, showing up to meetings and sharing honestly is simply not possible. Members are reminded at each meeting to keep confidential all that they have heard.

How often do I have to go to meetings?
There is no simple answer to this question. Initially, it's suggested to make 90 meetings in 90 days. Due to other responsibilities, this can be difficult to accomplish. However, it's advisable to make as many meetings as you can attend in early recovery. In general, regular meeting attendance is the name of the game. For some people that means a meeting every day and for others that means once a week. This is something that you have to decide for yourself, preferably under the guidance of a sponsor or therapist.

Will I have to make meetings for the rest of my life?
Recovery is a day at a time process. Our answer to that question then is to do your best to make a meeting today. The good news is that after regular meeting attendance, the chances are that you'll recognize that your life has significantly improved. At that point, you'll probably view making meetings as something you want to do, rather than have to do.

Hopefully this answers some of the questions and concerns that you may have about going to meetings. It's suggested that you attend six meetings or so before you decide whether they are right for you. The important thing is to have an open mind. Remember, as the old recovery adage goes: open-mindedness is like a parachute—that bad boy only works if it's open.


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