Welcome to SA. It is our desire that everyone feel comfortable and safe at meetings here in our area. We have therefore adopted the following guidelines to help the meetings run smoothly and to provide a safe haven for recovery. These guidelines adopted June 17, 1995 by the Pittsburgh Area Intergroup.
Practical Recovery Tools
Welcome to the fellowship of SA and to the opportunity to build a new life in sobriety and recovery. As soon as you can, we urge you to make a commitment to do the following things:
Make sobriety and recovery the very highest priorities in your life. Without these, every other aspect of your life will progressively deteriorate.
Regularly — at least once every week; more often as needed to stay sober and make progress on the Steps.
Punctually — on time, but if you cannot avoid coming late, that’s much better than not coming at all.
Get a sponsor:
At your first meeting, exchange phone numbers with at least one member and call before the next meeting. We have found that calling other members is extremely helpful to recovery. Winners make phone calls.
At each of your early meetings, listen for members you could relate to best.
As soon as possible, select a member to be your sponsor who seems to have a sobriety like you want for yourself. We suggest you pick someone with at least a year of continuous sobriety and for recovery, usually one who is progressing well into steps 9, 10, and 11.
A sponsor is just another member who’s worked the steps. Someone who’s been there and can help you figure it out. We have found that trying to do it all ourselves has always been a part of our disease. Reaching out to, listening to, and taking the advice of one’s sponsor can bring great strides in recovery.
Read the White Book:
Read from the beginning through page 76 as soon as possible. The books are sold at our cost at the meetings.
Read each “Step” section as you prepare to work each step. Read “Overcoming Lust and Temptations”, page 158.
Work the Steps:
Without working the Steps there can be no recovery.
With the help of your sponsor and the White Book, work each step. It may be appropriate to share some of the results at a group. Check with the group and with your sponsor.
Make phone calls:
If you are having difficulty with temptations, emotions, or just life, call your fellows in the program. Or, just as importantly, call just to stay in touch. We have found that the damp moldy dungeon of our isolation is a hotbed for lust. Winners make phone calls!
Obsession — Thinking about sex too much of the time.
Compulsion — Behavior we have tried to stop, but cannot.
Sobriety and recovery through the fellowship of the Twelve Steps.
Sobriety for us includes no sex with self or with anyone other than your heterosexual spouse. And sobriety includes progressive victory over lust.
Of course, we also want to avoid persons, places, things and activities that may well lead us to act out.
Our initial struggle with temptations, emotions, and life gradually reduces as we participate in the Fellowship, stay sober and work the Steps.
Look for similarities not differences between your story and others.
Don’t try to make amends before you get to Step 9.
Give yourself a fair chance in SA!
Characteristics of the Addict (Copied with permission from 1984 edition SA manual)
The addict has little tolerance for frustration. “I was born without a ‘coper’ “, some say, meaning that they can cope with very little. We may become more aware of this trait in recovery, especially at the beginning, and especially regarding trivia.
‘World War III I can handle, but if my shoelace breaks at the wrong time, I can go to pieces!”
The addict has a low tolerance for psychic pain, so pain must be relieved immediately. He cannot balance pleasure and pain, work and play. He suffers impaired self-esteem. He experiences conflicts about dependence, control, discipline, passivity, and aggressiveness. His talk is saturated with references to his addictive needs. The entire process is usually inflamed by self-contempt over lack of control of the addictive practice and continued poor performance in many areas of life.
Rationalization and Denial
Since eventually the addictive practice becomes more important but less satisfying, the addict must find ways to deny the pain that the addiction itself is beginning to cause and reinforce the illusion that he is experiencing greater highs. He must deny the destructive consequences to his well-being. He can neither identify nor admit his pain, let alone see that his addictive behavior is excessive and a way of coping.
Even when his addiction begins to interrupt his work and social life, he continues to deny what is happening. Because the addict always denies the nature, depth, duration, and impact of his addictiveness, distortions of his sense of time occur. He cannot account for much of his time, unaware that it was spent in addictive reveries or acts. Even in the final stages, he still cannot connect his near paralysis and the addiction that has brought his life to a halt. The addict is invariably the last person to know or want to know that he is an addict. All too often, his denial is so insidious, that those to whom he may be going for help or treatment miss the central fact of his addiction.
Character defects are always present, even though covered. At various stages, a person may show dishonesty, unreliability, lack of control, over control, manipulative or immature behavior, mild or hardcore criminality, demanding behavior, grandiosity, exhibitionism, insatiability, and impulsiveness. The greater a person’s character defects before the process begin, the more destructive is the addiction.
The addict’s most challenging protection is his capacity to tell open and indirect lies. At first these deceptions may only be about his addiction, but eventually they encompass his life and become the addiction’s guardians. The addict becomes a polished actor-perhaps unaware of this talent, but rarely without it and unwilling to give it up. Eventually he believes his own lies and manipulates others into believing them as well. His truths have become delusions, the seeds of paranoia.
This is generally defined as a state in which the person: has an exaggerated awareness and estimation of the self, negates the existence and value of others, and perceives only people who focus solely on his needs and will be a source of pleasure to be used and discarded with ease. This attitude is often accompanied by feelings of omnipotence, superficial relatedness, immaturity, and sometimes a wish to return to infantile or childhood dependence and be the center of attention.
The addict is described as one who needs instant and excessive rewards for inappropriately small exertions in work or relationships. He shows little or no appropriate awareness or appreciation of others’ contributions to his life or their sacrifice on behalf of his addictive behavior. The person is more often than not unable to delay gratification, is easily frustrated, and overreacts to failure. Rarely does he concern himself with his excessive negative emotions, which are provoked by any level of discomfort, nor does he care about their unpleasant consequences to anyone around him.
He can shift from arrogance to indifference, from the pain of total self-denial to the pleasure of complete indulgence. He believes that resorting to his habit will magically repair any injury to his ego.
The addict’s inadequacies with people become progressively more painful and result in many actual or provoked rejections by his family, peers, or authorities. He grows unable to tolerate the tensions of intimate relationships and withdraws into addictive behavior as a solution. As others begin to react negatively to him, he may come to see relationships as potentially dangerous, hostile, or confusing. Ultimately, his isolation from family and peers may force him to retreat to a life with addictive peers and become excessively dependent on them and on his addiction.
An addict may not realize how persistently he seeks out his fellow addicts or addicting environments. They make him feel alive, more adequate, and relieved of the pressures that triggered him to come to them. As a result, he may withdraw further from his everyday familiar contacts and experiences. This may appear as rebellion or pseudo-independence. Also, his inability to accept control or exercise enough controls may lead to attempts to repair his damaged psyche by destructive domination or excessive submission.
Every addict has an excessive need for dependence, either overt or hidden. Usually he is unaware of how dependent he really is, how paralyzing his dependency needs are, and how insatiable his needs seem to others. He is aware only of painful rejections and failures when these needs are not met by society and those closest to him.
Many an addict finds another person whose addiction feeds into and seems to justify his own. He also needs people who can provide what is lacking in himself. He becomes bound to such people-relatives, spouses, lovers, peers-with his own addiction as the catalyst. Sometimes he can make people close to him his addictive complements, manipulating them into providing the triggers he needs to justify his acting-out. He may force them to reduce his self-esteem, make him feel guilty, overprotect him, or reject him. He may seduce them into exploiting or abusing him. Then, instead of expressing his anger directly at them, he feels justified in acting out his addiction.
When two addicts become locked in a relationship, they may fuel each other’s addictions, easily become isolated and suspicious, and even find it difficult to integrate into society. No one else seems able to fill their addictive needs as well as each other.
In many cases, the addict keeps searching for the totally accepting relationship he had or wanted as a child, and begins to distort the real nature of the rejection he receives. He may not be able to see that people reject his demands because they are excessive or made in ways that make them difficult to fulfill.