Lived experiences of recovery from compulsive sexual behavior among members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous: a qualitative thematic analysis

Fernandez, D.P. ORCID: 0000-0001-7645-9959, Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2021. Lived experiences of recovery from compulsive sexual behavior among members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous: a qualitative thematic analysis. Sexual Health and Compulsivity, 28 (1-2), pp. 47-80. ISSN 2692-9953

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Despite the prominence of 12-step recovery as an approach to addressing compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) worldwide, little is known about the phenomenological experiences of recovery from CSB among individuals who participate in 12-step groups for CSB (known as ‘S’ groups). The present qualitative study used in-depth interviews to explore lived experiences of recovery from CSB among 14 members (13 males and one female) of an ‘S’ group, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). Inductive thematic analysis of the interview data yielded five themes: (i) unmanageability of life as impetus for change, (ii) addiction as a symptom of a deeper problem, (iii) recovery is more than just abstinence, (iv) maintaining a new lifestyle and ongoing work on the self, and (v) the gifts of recovery. Participants typically described their initiation into recovery as being precipitated by the escalating negative consequences of their sexual behavior. Over time in recovery, they came to see their sexual acting out as a manifestation of unresolved underlying issues that would need to be addressed in recovery. They also came to believe that to achieve lasting abstinence from their problematic sexual behaviors, their overarching recovery goal would need to expand beyond just abstinence to the long-term maintenance of the quality of their recovery as a whole. This was achieved primarily through the creation and maintenance of a new lifestyle and engagement in ongoing work on the self. This new way of living was described as resulting in positive changes beyond just the alleviation of CSB symptoms, including personal transformation and improvements in overall quality of life. This qualitative study is the first to analyze recovery experiences of ‘S’ group members using a bottom-up approach and provides insights into how SLAA members describe and make sense of their recovery journeys.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Sexual Health and Compulsivity
Creators: Fernandez, D.P., Kuss, D.J. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Date: 13 December 2021
Volume: 28
Number: 1-2
ISSN: 2692-9953
Rights: © 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 10 Jan 2022 16:37
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 16:48
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