As you either knew or hoped, there is a recovery program for the obsessive-compulsive sex and love patterns we’ve been discussing. As with most addictive behaviors, the 12-step model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous is effective both in immediate behavior modification and long-term emotional/spiritual healing. AA begat SA (Sexoholics Anonymous) which begat SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) which begat SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous) which begat SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) which begat the small but growing LAA (Love Addicts Anonymous.)
By and large, sex addiction and love addiction have the same social stigma today that alcoholism had in the 1930s and drug addiction did in the 1950s. By the ‘80s, no one really cared that you were a drunk (see Dudley Moore in “Arthur”) or a cokehead (see Al Pacino in “Scarface.”) But stalking your fantasy beloved, or running up six-figure phone-sex bills, are still downright embarrassing. And no one wants to be that person dragged along the floor, clutching someone’s ankle as they’re walking out of the room.
By the 2000s, SLAA had become the most socially acceptable of all these shame-based “S-programs.” Male and female, gay and straight, young and old… homemakers could work their way out of abusive relationships in the same room as rent boys could work their way out of the bathhouse. The gal who couldn’t imagine not earning stares for her low-cut necklines could relate to the flasher who felt powerless unless he was wagging his weenie. It’s all about feeling invisible unless you’re perceived as a sexual being. You’re nobody until somebody loves you, as the song goes. Or at least desires you.
Generally, men are willing to admit they’re sex addicts and loathe to cop to their love obsession. Whereas women will identify as love junkies or romance addicts and not want to embrace their sexual profligacy. What both realize very quickly is that sex and love are two sides of the same coin. Often, sex is the coin women trade for love; words of love are currency that men trade for sex.
Dear depraved sex addict: As soon as you stop banging everything in sight I guarantee you will fall desperately, adolescently in love with the first stripper who smiles at you. Dear wholesome romance junkie: Erase His number from your phone and take down His pictures, and you will achieve a new personal best in one-night stands. It’s the old game of mental whack-a-mole. Give up smoking and eat yourself fat. Give up drinking and shop yourself broke.
As always, it’s not the drug; it’s the addict.
Here are some 12-step fellowships for anyone who identifies as either a love addict, a sex addict, and sex and love addict or a normal (ha!) person in a relationship with one of the above.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)
1550 NE Loop 410, Ste. 118
San Antonio, TX 78209
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA)
International Service Organization
P.O. Box 70949 Houston, TX 77270
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
SA International Central Office
P.O. Box 3565 Brentwood, TN 37024
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA)
P.O. Box 1585
Old Chelsea Station New York, NY 10011
Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA)
Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA)
Co-Sex Addicts Anonymous (COSA)
International Service Organization of COSA (or ISO of COSA)
P.O. Box 79908 Houston, TX 77279-9908
P.O. Box 11029 Oakland, CA 94611
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA)
CoDA, Fellowship Services Office
P.O. Box 33577
Phoenix, AZ 85067-3577
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters
1600 Corporate Landing Pkwy
Virginia Beach, VA 23454