Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) founded in 1979 is one of several twelve-step programs for compulsive sexual behavior based on the original twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. SA takes its place among various twelve-step groups that seek recovery from sexual addiction: Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous and Sexual Recovery Anonymous. Collectively these groups are referred to as "S" groups since all their acronyms begin with that letter: SA, SAA, SLAA, SCA, SRA.
SA helps recovering "sexaholics." According to the group, a sexaholic is someone for whom "lust has become an addiction." SA distinguishes itself from other S groups by defining sexual sobriety as no sex with self or with partners other than with one's spouse "in the marriage between a man and a woman", and progressive victory over lust.
"In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous. We can only speak for ourselves. Thus, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse. For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust".
The group uses the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the book "Sexaholics Anonymous" (often referred to as "The White Book") as a guide. The White Book explains that "the sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop."
Sexaholics Anonymous was founded by Roy K (in twelve-step fellowships it is customary to refer to members by their first name and the first initial of their last name, in order to preserve their anonymity). SA received permission from AA to use its Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in 1979.
Group commitment to sobriety definition
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From the earliest attempts by Roy K to found SA in the 1970s, and throughout the history of SA, some members have sought to change the group's concept of sexual sobriety. This was an attempt to generalize marriage similar to the 12 Step concept from Step 3 of "God as you understand God". It was an attempt to endorse as sexually sober, sexual activity by couples, not legally married, whether they be of the same or opposite sex. The fellowship did not accept this and, as a result, in 1991 some SA members and groups left SA to form Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA), citing the SA sobriety definition's lack of endorsement of same sex relationships and committed relationships. Murray R, one of the SRA founders had served on the SA General Service Board and had long attempted to change the SA sobriety definition to include committed relationships with either the same or opposite sex.
As early as 1991 Roy was writing to the fellowship regarding same-sex acting out. In an article titled Principles Corroborating SA's Interpretation of Sexual Sobriety Roy wrote, "Ever since attending the April 1986 and 1987 NYC Marathons, I have been examining my own assumptions in the same-sex area. That year I wrote a letter to a same-sex member sharing my thoughts; it now has the title "Recovery Reveals Our False Assumptions." That paper, which follows, gives reasons from within our common recovery experience why I believe we in SA should not endorse or validate, even indirectly, same-sex or "committed relationship" sexualizing in SA." In the section titled "The Great Same-Sex Controversy" Roy goes on to explain how society was divided on the "nature vs. nurture" argument about homosexuality, "Intense controversies rage about this issue in every area of modern life in highly polarized and publicized passion. It is one of the most explosive political issues of the day. Congress is divided. Religions and churches are divided. The Twelve Step program is divided. The same-sex culture itself is divided. The "experts" are divided. The point here is this: For SA to validate same-sex sexualizing in SA, even indirectly, would have us endorsing a highly controversial biological theory and political movement against our Tenth Tradition. If we validate same-sex sexualizing as normative for the sexaholic in recovery, and it turns out not to be normative, SA will have been promoting an untruth and doing a devilish disservice, supporting the problem instead of recovery. That's an awesome responsibility we're dealing with here—human lives!"
The issue came up again in the late 1990s. A survey was held, reaching out to various individual meetings through the regional councils and local Intergroups. A solid majority of responders felt that the sobriety definition did not require clarification. Agitation on the issue continued due to a perception that the ambiguous nature of the survey questions rendered the results meaningless. The Chair of the SA Delegates Assembly summed up this ambiguity: "I received conflicting opinions about the meaning of the January 1999 vote that we do not need to clarify the SA sobriety definition. Many (probably most) were convinced this vote meant that we are already clear on the meaning of traditional SA sobriety and no further clarification is needed. Others were equally convinced this vote meant that "spouse" and "marriage" could be interpreted as understood by each member. Some were convinced that SA is afraid to "say what it means and mean what it says" 
On July 9, 1999, the General Delegates Assembly, meeting at an international conference in Cleveland, unanimously voted (9-0) to clarify the definition of "spouse" to be "one's partner in a marriage between a man and a woman." This is known as the Cleveland Clarification or the Cleveland Statement of Principle. It was overwhelmingly accepted by the membership at the group, intergroup and regional levels. In 2000 same-sex attracted SA members expressed their support for the Cleveland Clarification in a letter to SA delegates and trustees signed by 66 members from 7 countries. Candidates for membership in the SA Board of Trustees, are now required to affirm the SA Sobriety Definition including the Cleveland Clarification.
This controversy continues to circulate within the fellowship. The General Delegate Assembly (GDA) "is the policy making body of SA." Any Delegate is free to propose a motion at the GDA to debate the SA sobriety definition. SA Conferences are about recovery, not for debating policy matters like the sobriety definition. Essay, the quarterly international SA newsletter, states the principle in its Editorial Philosophy: "SA’s sobriety definition is not debated, since it distinguishes SA from other sex addiction fellowships. Essay is not a forum for non-SA sobriety."
In July 2016, the SA General Delegates Assembly(GDA) passed a motion further entrenching the 1999 Cleveland Statement of Principle : "In SA's sobriety definition, the term "spouse" refers to one's partner in a marriage between a man and a woman". The motion requires the inclusion of the Statement of Principle in all SA literature on the SA website home page. Further, the motion declared that “Meetings that do not adhere to and follow …the Statement of Principle … are not SA meetings and shall not call themselves SA meetings” 
SA has attracted a subsection of the same-sex attracted population who seek not to act sexually on such attractions. At the July 2007 SA International Convention a survey was conducted of 176 SA members. Asked the object of their sexual fantasy and acting out, 23% nominated same-sex and a further 7% indicated both genders. Topic meetings on same-sex issues are held at SA International Conferences and personal stories of same–sex recovery appear in Essay, the official SA quarterly publication. There also exist other organizations which serve such individuals; see Ex-gay.
All SA & S-Anon conventions from inception to 2016 have been held in the United States, except July 1992 and July 1997 which were both held in Canada. In 2017, the first SA International Convention was held outside North America in Israel, Middle East. In January 2019 we held our first International Convention in Spain. 
SA fully accepts all AA General Conference-approved literature for use in SA meetings, and SA groups frequently read from AA literature in their own meetings. SA adheres closely to the AA model, applying all of AA's principles to lust and sexual addiction, and whereas other members of other S-groups define sobriety for themselves, SA is closer to AA in proposing an understanding of sobriety which requires abstinence and is common to the group.
- Sexaholics Anonymous. This book is also known as the "White Book". WorldCat ID 56936605. (Also available as an audiobook on CDs.)
- Recovery Continues. (Also available as an audiobook on CDs.)
- Best of Essay, Practical Recovery Tools, 1994–2003.
- Step into Action: One, Two, Three.
- Step into Action: Four, Five, Six, Seven.
- Step Into Action: Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.
- Member Stories 1989.
- Member Stories 2007.
- SA Service Manual.
- Best of Essay volume 1, Member Stories (2001).
- Best of Essay volume 2, Practical Recovery Tools (2001).
- Discovering the Principles.
- Beginnings... Notes on the Early Growth and Origin of SA.
- SA Brochure.
- SA to the Newcomer.
- Why Stop Lusting?
- SA as a Resource for the Health & Helping Professional.
- First Step Inventory.
- Practical Guidelines for Group Recovery.
- The SA Correctional Facilities Committee.
- Do You Have a Problem with Pornography or Lust on the Internet?
A psychologist involved in sexual addiction treatment, Patrick Carnes, encourages self-defined sobriety in his writings, saying that a no-masturbation definition of sobriety is only appropriate for some sex addicts and that bottom lines can in fact be modified over time. Joe Kort criticizes SA for its pro-heterosexual marriage stance.
However, the founder Roy K. knew ahead of time that this was a controversial subject and often wrote letters from a contrarian perspective. "If we come into an SA group where we can define our own sobriety, watch those rationalizations come alive! And if we define our own level of sobriety, that's all we're likely to reach." In addition, Roy studied Theology for many years at a Seminary. He often would leave an SA convention where he was one of the 'keynote speakers' and preach at a church around the cornerfor those interested in listening to a more evangelical point of view. "We don't claim to understand all the ramifications of sexual sobriety. Some of us have come to believe that there is a deeper spiritual significance in sexual sobriety, while others simply report that without a firm and clear bottom line, our "cunning, baffling, and powerful" sexaholism takes over sooner or later.
- List of twelve-step groups
- Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
- Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Literature. 1989. p. 4. ISBN 0-9622887-0-5.
- "Sexaholics Anonymous". Sexaholics Anonymous.
- Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Literature. 1989. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-9622887-0-5.
- "A Fond Remembrance". Essay. Sexaholics Anonymous: Cover. December 2009.
- K., Roy (2003). Beginnings … Notes on the Origin and Early Growth of SA. SA Publications. p. 2.
- "Report of the Committee to Investigate Tri-state's Affiliation" (PDF). Sexaholics Anonymous Tri State Intergroup. 1991.
- "Murray, A Reluctant Founder" (PDF). Communique. Sexual Recovery Anonymous: 1, 6, 7. Fall 2001.
- "Principles Corroborating SA's Interpretation of Sexual Sobriety" (PDF). Essay. Sexaholics Anonymous. June 1991.
- page 6
- "Clarification of the Sobriety Definition" (PDF). Essay: 19. Fall 1999.
- K., Roy (October 15, 2001). Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Publications. p. 192.
- "Same sex attracted SA members speak out". 2000. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
- SA Service Manual (PDF). Sexaholics Anonymous Inc. p. 16. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
- SA Service Manual (PDF). Sexaholics Anonymous Inc. 2014. p. 32. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
- "Essay Article Submission". Sexaholics Anonymous.
- "Sexaholics Anonymous - Statement of Principle". Essay: 32. September 2016.
- "Lust Questionnaire Findings" (PDF). Essay. Sexaholics Anonymous: 18–19. March 2008.
- "Same-sex Lust Recovery in SA".
- Sexaholics Anonymous. SAICO. 2021.http://www.sa.org/events
- S-Anon, for Families & Friends of Sexaholics
- Jan R. Wilson, Judith A. Wilson (1994). Addictionary: A Primer of Recovery Terms & Concepts from Abstinence to Withdraw. Hazelden PES, p.316
- Patrick J. Carnes, David L. Delmonico, Elizabeth Griffin (2004). In The Shadows Of The Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior. Hazelden PES.
- Joe Kort. Ten Smart Things -Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives. Alyson Publishing, p.108
- Roy K., White Book, SA Literature. 1989. p. 191. ISBN 0-9622887-0-5.
- Roy K., White Book, SA Literature. 1989. p. 2. ISBN 0-9622887-0-5.
- "What is S-Anon?". sanon.org. Retrieved July 8, 2018.