The International Fellowships

Sex-Related 12-Step Programs

How They Started & Why They Differ


Seventy-five meetings will take place this week in Colorado, dealing with sex, love & relationship addiction, sexual co-addiction or survival from sexual abuse. Having started in Denver in 1984, these Colorado meetings often call themselves “S” groups because they deal with “sex-related” behavioral problems. They are applying the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al?Anon Family Groups to the damaging behaviors around obsessive and compulsive sexuality. Beginning in 1976, the 12-Step movement for sex addiction has gradually spread across borders, interstate as well as internationally.

People often ask why there are so many fellowships and how they differ. The worldwide fellowships originated in widely separated parts of the USA (Boston, Minneapolis, and Southern California). Each had already begun taking shape before learning of the others. As a result, they developed differing customs and beliefs and, most of all, formed separate networks.

They all have a common belief in the 12?step, 12?tradition program originated in 1935 by Alcoholics Anonymous. And too, the 60 to 90 minute weekly meetings embrace many common rituals borrowed from AA and Al-Anon. Practices such as reciting the Serenity Prayer, introducing oneself by first name, or reading favorite passages from the AA “Big Book” or Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, to name just a few.

We’ll start with the earliest fellowship (SLAA) and then switch to alphabetical order.