Tradition Three – The only requirement for S.A.A. membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior.

“Singleness of purpose” means that we have a common solution to our common problem. Our common solution, will be explained in Tradition Five. Our common problem, addressed by the 3rd Tradition, is the one which brought us in the door of our first meeting, the one which made us reach out for help, is the one and only problem on which this fellowship focuses – We are sex addicts. We don’t help people recover from alcoholism, drug addiction, over eating, unemployment, divorce, “family of origin”, child abuse, “people, places or things,” or any other personal problems. We have found a solution for our addictive sexual behavior. We have found a way to be abstinent and happily so.

The definition of sex addiction may vary between the state and the therapy/treatment industries, but the definition we use is the one described by the A.A. Big Book. The model for addiction described by the Big Book is a two part problem: inability to control once we start and an inability to manage our most sincere desire to not ever start again. Just because someone has had consequences resulting from their sexual behavior does not mean he or she is a sex addict. Our fellowship is for sex addicts of this type, not for the moderate user, not for the hard user, but for people who have an inability to leave it alone completely no matter how great the desire. We have a responsibility to qualify the newcomer, to see if their behaviors fit the model of the two-part illness. We must also be confident that the newcomer has a sincere desire to stop, not just to manage potential consequences. We cannot be all things to all people. We, as a fellowship, cannot help someone recover from a disease from which we do not collectively suffer..

Even though someone may qualify as a sex addict, it does not mean they are actually suffering. We will know if they are suffering by the level of their desperation. Our solution works best for those who have no other options, including taking time or waiting to do the work. Since we only have one solution, we know if someone desires to recover by how fervently he/she pursues that solution. This will manifest by the newcomer immediately finding a sponsor, following the directions of that sponsor by working the Steps with said sponsor, and immediately getting into service.

We, as responsible members of this fellowship, are obligated to approach the newcomer and find out if they are real sex addicts, if for no other reason than to protect the integrity of our meetings. This does not mean we have the right to diagnose anyone as a sex addict; i.e. tell him/her that he/she is a sex addict. Only the individual knows the degree of sincerity in his/her desire to stop for good and for all, yet was unable to do so. We do, however, have the obligation to tell the newcomer when we believe their behaviors do not fit the addiction model upon which the Twelve Steps are effective. In other words, we do have the responsibility to tell the newcomer we don’t see how his/her behaviors fit the model, and therefore he/she might not be a sex addict. In these cases we provide them with the tools of self diagnosis and let them know we are here if they have any need for help in the future. We have a similar responsibility to the person who has been around for a couple of weeks or more. We have a duty to ask such a person, why he/she hasn’t gotten a sponsor and started working the Steps. This may sound harsh but the willingness to work our program can only be attained by finding bottom with our addiction. Bottom cannot be found by sitting in our meetings. It can only be found by acting out enough. The newcomer who does not have the willingness to work our program should be encouraged to go act out some more. We have nothing to offer someone who does not walk through our doors with enough willingness, honesty and open-mindedness necessary to work the Twelve Steps. The newcomer may find the relief that comes from fellowship. Such relief may only prolong his/her finding bottom and thereby making such a bottom deeper and more painful. We must always remember, to enable an addict only makes things worse for him/her in the end. Further, when a member’s actions contradict a desire to stop, we, as members in good standing, have the moral imperative to bring this to the attention of his/her sponsor or the individual personally if he/she does not yet have a sponsor. The newcomer should know from the beginning, the members of a healthy fellowship hold each other accountable.

We, as a group, are here for one thing, and one thing only: We are real sex addicts who wish to recover and have done so by working and living the Twelve Steps! Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of the Twelve Step Program, said, “It is better that we do one thing really well, than many things poorly.” This also eliminates the possibility of a “boundary group” registering as a S.A.A. group. A stated desire to stop all addictive sexual behaviors for good and for all is all that is required for someone to occupy a chair at one of our meetings. Unfortunately it does not give just anyone the right to talk or vote in a group conscience. From a 5th Tradition point of view, if the newcomer has not been spiritually awakened as the result of working all 12 Steps, then he/she really has no message to carry. Coupling this with our 2nd Tradition, we can see that his/her relationship with his/her Higher Power should have been initiated by completing the work of Steps 1-9 before he/she should vote in a group conscience or even speak in a meeting. A stated desire to stop addictive sexual behaviors for good and for all is the only requirement for membership in S.A.A. as a whole. The individual groups may have additional requirements: regular attendance, support of the group via financial contributions and service work, etc. in order to call such a group “home.” But, attendance should be open to all who have an honest desire to stop addictive sexual behavior.

Membership in the fellowship of S.A.A. does not require that we also be of a particular profession, i.e.: doctors, attorneys, clergy, etc. Sexual orientation, gender, language spoken, etc., etc. these are outside issues. Though these “boundary” groups may exist, they operate outside the parameters of the Traditions and are, therefore, not a Twelve Step and Twelve Tradition group and should not register as such. These types of groups should not consider themselves as member groups of S.A.A.

Tradition Three is the great equalizer. Who we are outside of our fellowship is not pertinent within the fellowship. When we walk in the door of a S.A.A. meeting, we are all brothers and sisters in a desire to stop our common problem. Nothing more is required or considered. There is no therapeutic class. There is no celebrity. We are composed of those who are new, seeking our common solution, and those who are living it and offering it. Since we only have a daily reprieve from our obsession, newcomer and veteran alike should consider themselves equal in God’s eyes.