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Sexaholics Anonymous defines a sex addict as someone who "has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop." Sex addicts feel lust the way drug addicts feel a craving for their drug.

The "high" of a sexual encounter-or, for some, simply masturbation-brings a temporary feeling of connection or power, but in the end leaves the addict feeling guilty, remorseful, and empty.The group believes that unhealthy sexual encounters based on lust, fantasy, or dependency reinforce the addict's problems and can actually cripple his or her ability to have intimate relationships.SA tries to help members uncover the reason for their sex addiction, learn to cope with their underlying problems, and approach sex in a healthier way. The approach includes helping addicts to be comfortable with themselves and others, make amends with those they've hurt, forgive those who have hurt them, and learn to give and receive love.Like other recovery programs, Sexaholics Anonymous uses twelve steps to guide members.They are adapted, with permission, from the Alcoholics Anonymous steps, although the groups are not affiliated. Anyone who admits to having a sex addiction and states a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober may become a member. "Sponsors," people who are recovering with the group's help, assist new members.

Members are expected to complete each step as part of the recovery process. Small donations to help keep the group running are requested but not required. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, their second step requires "believing that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." References to turning one's life over to God occur several times.

Also, SA asks members to refrain from any sex, except perhaps with a spouse, during recovery.

And, they specifically state that they define spouse as the opposite-sex partner in a marriage between a man and a woman.

SA suggests the following tools to help its members overcome their addiction: Meeting locations are listed on the SA web site.

As a general rule, only people who are genuinely interested in seeking help are welcome at the meetings.

Others, including therapists, students, family members, and members of the media, should call the local office for information.