Why Join a 12-Step Group? Committing to participate in a 12-Step program is a critical element of the recovery process. It is usually when addicts finally admit that they are powerless to change on their own and become willing to join a 12-Step program that they find real recovery. 12-Step programs are non-professional, non-profit groups. Programs provide (a) specific boundaries and recovery plans, (b) accountability to a sponsor and regular reporting at group meetings, (c) support and encouragement, (d) a step-by-step process for pursuing recovery and making life changes, and (e) an emphasis on the need to turn to a Higher Power for help and intervention. The “12 Steps of Recovery” set forth the process individuals follow to make the spiritual and mental changes that enable them to find and maintain long-term recovery. The steps were originally written and experienced by members of Alcoholics Anonymous and closely correlate to the LDS view of the repentance process.
For those viewing pornography, many commit to stop again and again. They talk to others, read material, participate in programs and even see a therapist, only to relapse after days, weeks, months or even years of not viewing pornography. The element that is generally missing, and often most resisted by addicts, is fully committing to attend a 12-step program and work the steps of recovery. Ironically, those who gain long-term recovery frequently indicate that fully working the 12-step program was the most important step in their recovery. The White Book, written Sexaholics Anonymous, explains that “[n]o one seems able to stay sober and progress in recovery without [the 12-steps], though some try. For most of us, without associating in some way with other recovering individuals, there is no lasting sobriety and none of the fringe benefits of recovery, growth, freedom, and joy… We don’t try to explain this; it is simply a fact.” (page 63 of White book). The “crucial change in attitude began when we admitted that our habit had us whipped” and “[w]e came to 12-step meetings[.]”
Productive participation in a 12-Step group initially requires attending several meetings per week, working the 12 Steps daily and regularly reporting to a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has worked the 12 Steps, found recovery and is willing to serve as a mentor. Their experience uniquely qualifies them to help others suffering from the same addiction. They promote accountability, give hope and offer specific guidance on how to avoid relapses.
The LDS PASG and ARP groups and SA (Sexaholics Anonymous) groups: The LDS church has two specific types of 12-Step groups. Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) meetings are open to men and women who want to recover from any type of addictive behavior. Pornography Addiction Support Group (PASG) meetings are for pornography addicts with a corresponding “Family Support Group” for spouses or loved ones. There are also a number of non-LDS 12-Step groups that deal with sexual addiction. Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) groups are functioning in many areas and provide a very effective program for recovery from pornography and sexual addiction. S-Anon meetings are available to help those who are affected by someone else’s sexual behavior (i.e., a spouse).
Much of the benefit derived from a 12-Step meeting comes directly from the associations and interactions of the people who attend. Accordingly, the quality of 12-Step meetings can vary greatly. It is important to find a meeting that works for the person seeking recovery.
Effective groups will have:
- Regular meetings several times a week conducted by someone who has recovered from that specific addiction
- Meetings with a reasonable number of people who have found healing and recovery and can share their experience, strength and hope
- Available sponsors who are qualified to guide newcomers through the recovery process
- Literature specific to the addiction and a methodology for working the steps
- A definition of sobriety that conforms to the value system of the individual seeking help
If, after attending several meetings and working the program, the individual seeking help does not feel connected to the group, he should consider looking for a different 12-Step program. In areas where LDS PASG meetings are firmly established, it is possible for each of the above criteria to be met by attending the LDS-sponsored meetings. If the LDS-sponsored meetings are less developed, there may not be sufficient numbers of people in recovery to find an appropriate sponsor and get the help needed. Many members have found that also attending SA and S-Anon meetings can be helpful. Members who attend SA or S-Anon groups and gain experience, sobriety and recovery can then return and share their experience, strength and hope with those in the PASG or Family Support group meetings, thus helping to strengthen the LDS program.
It is important to note that there are a number of non-LDS groups for sexual addiction which are attended by LDS people. An advantage of Sexaholics Anonymous is that their definition of sexual sobriety is consistent with LDS values: “No form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse.” Members of SA also work to achieve progressive victory over lust. Some of the other groups do not necessarily promote the same standards of chastity.
Information for Loved Ones of Those Addicted to Pornography
How has my loved one’s addiction affected me? Those impacted by the addiction of another need to realize that they have been harmed and deeply affected by the addiction of their loved one. It is not a simple thing to heal from these wounds. There are 12-step meetings specifically for the loved ones of addicts. These meetings are a place where those closely associated with addicts can come to terms with their feelings of frustration, hurt, anger, confusion, depression and perceived powerless. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to change your
circumstances or you may be trying to facilitate your loved one’s recovery. Many have found the most critical component of sorting through these emotions, identifying specific actions that can appropriately be taken and finding balance and peace in life on a day-to-day basis is a 12-step support group.
The 12-step program will give you the strength you need to change by helping you gain support from others, establish specific boundaries, provide accountability through a sponsor and help you apply 12 important steps or principles that will help you succeed.
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