Membership in Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is currently growing at a rapid pace in the U.S. and abroad, with about a 20% increase in the number of weekly group meetings every year. SAA and other sex addiction support groups like it follow the AA model of self help support groups where the last names of the members are never mentioned and the members protect each other’s confidentiality. Some people in the addiction recovery community are questioning what they see as a harmful tradition of secrecy. I see very strong arguments on either side of this issue.
The “non-anonymous” movement
A new support network called “Addicts NOT Anonymous” was recently founded. It challenges the idea of anonymity based, says its founder, on the notion that “We may be addicts. We may have done some terrible things to get our drugs. But we are NOT nameless, faceless, anonymous nobodies.”
By shedding their anonymity the non-anonymous people argue that they gain self respect and accountability for their actions. They seem to see the whole traditional 12-step model as a rigid, ritualistic throwback.
Other opponents of anonymity argue that “We are in the midst of a public health crisis when it comes to understanding and treating addiction. AA’s principle of anonymity may only be contributing to general confusion and prejudice.”
Reasons in favor of sex addicts coming out of the closet
“Coming out,” whether on the part of alcoholics, drug addicts, homosexuals, rape victims or even undocumented workers, has historically had a number of beneficial effects.
Reasons against sex addicts coming out of the closet
“Anonymous support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous that are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous protect the identity of their members for some obvious reasons and some less obvious reasons.
This last point is the most important. In 12-step groups like SAA one of the basic tenets is: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
In creating a support group where people are “just people” not doctors, business executives, or janitors there is a greater possibility for people to see under the surface to the common humanity and common struggle. This makes for real connection, spiritual connection rather than just membership in an affinity group. The real connection with another person based on who we are on the inside is ultimately what makes change possible.
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From Psych Central's website:
The Stigma of Sex Addiction Part 1: The “Non-Anonymous” Movement – PsychCentral.com (blog) - Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms (September 10, 2012)
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Last reviewed: 10 Sep 2012