We have established through our 5th Tradition that our group should be focused on one thing and one thing only – carrying the message: that we had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps. The next several Traditions tell us the things that can distract us from that purpose.
Our program is simple. It is based on one recovered sex addict sitting down with one who wants to recover and shows him/her how he/she worked the Steps such that freedom was found. This can be done anywhere. It does not require any special facilities. In the early days of 12 Step it was done in the homes of its members. Today, it is not unusual to see two people at a coffee shop or restaurant with Big Books in front of them, writing, going over paperwork, all in the midst of serious discussion. We still from time to time meet in each others homes.
Since early times, it has been our custom, that when our groups formalize and we establish a meeting, we start looking for a venue. Usually these venues are inexpensive. This is mostly due to our 7th Tradition, which is essentially a vow of poverty. Often this puts our groups in neighborhoods where the demographic is one of low income or using the facilities of not-for-profit organization. We believe that both have their advantages. With the former, it allows us to be geographically where people need us the most.. With the latter, usually these organizations have been trying to help people like us and have been frustrated by the lack of a viable solution. These are normally churches, other 12 Step fellowships or helping professionals.
There are some disadvantages to this. It can cause confusion for those coming to SAA for the first time.. These newcomers are clearly delineated in our 5th Tradition as the most important people in our meetings. We wish to do nothing to dissuade them. They may be discouraged if they are of a different religion than the church where we rent space. They may think that the 12 Step Program is merely an extension of psychology if we meet in the office of a helping professional. The newcomer is sure to be confused if we meet in the facilities of another 12 Step fellowship. Imagine walking into a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous when you were looking for Overeaters Anonymous or vice versa. Such things have happened, and all too often.
We avoid commitments to legal instruments such as contracts, leases and purchasing property. Such things tie us to a location and do not allow God to take us to the places we are most needed. Further, managing these types of facilities and legal documents can be quite time consuming. Sometimes it is a full time job. If our members are thus focused, they are not doing the very important work of Step 12/Tradition 5. Our group may choose to hire someone to manage these things. We have the right to choose our managers. We as a group have the right to hire someone from our own fellowship. That way such a person can earn a living by managing club affairs and attend to the avocation of 12 Step work after they “clock-out.”
Healthy groups do something we refer to as “H and I,” which is an abbreviation for Hospitals and Institutions. Some of us refer to them as “wind up joints,” because it is where people like us “wind up.” Such places are not limited to hospitals and institutions. We might obviously think of psychiatric wards or treatment centers, but we also go to half-way houses, homeless shelters, prisons, jails and so on. We go there to offer our way of life to any who want and need it badly. We do so by presenting to those there a description of our problem and the solution we have found. It might be easy to misunderstand our purpose there. Many have assumed that our meetings are part of a treatment program or a type of group therapy. We “carry the message” to such places to augment or offer an alternative to whatever treatment they provide as an institution.
Some of us choose to contribute to these institutions financially. Some of us see it as a way of making amends or adding to our practice of the Twelfth Step. When we choose this sort of activity, we do so as individuals and not as members of S.A.A.
Whether we are meeting in a church or therapists office for our regular meeting, or going to a treatment center to carry the message, we must be abundantly clear that our only affiliation with such places is as a tenant. We are there to practice or present the 12 Step Program only and that it is quite clearly not a psycho-therapeutic program. We must be sure to delineate ourselves as separate whenever a newcomer is present. We carry a 12 Step message, not a religious message. We are here for sex addicts and no one else. We do not discuss these things in meetings as someone might confuse this for implied endorsement. When such facilities are in financial need, then it is their responsibility to raise the rent, not to solicit donations from its tenants. Such altruism could easily be misconstrued as endorsement or affiliation.
In the pioneering days of 12 Step, there were several companies that solicited endorsement from Alcoholics Anonymous. This would have certainly clouded the 12 Step message and distracted the early A.A.’s from their singleness of purpose. While there is very little danger today of companies seeking the endorsement of S.A.A., the principal still stands. We don’t as a fellowship or individual members, offer or accept endorsement for our 12 Step work. This is the corporate or business entity version or our 11th Tradition which will be discussed in detail later, but essentially means we try to keep the S.A.A. name out of the spotlight.
The endorsement they sought was a statement that the company’s methods of distribution were in line to prevent alcohol abuse. We must remember that anyone, even business entities, can make mistakes. Often these mistakes are brought into public ridicule and associations are condemned or sometimes called into question. We need to always guard the reputation of our fellowship. We do this by standing on our own work and by not affiliating with anyone or anything else. We have no one to blame but ourselves when our notoriety suffers at our own hands. This holds us accountable for making sure that the work we do is solid and honest. We must live as though we have no secrets. Our fellowship must conduct its business as if it had glass walls. Affiliations with outside entities can cast a bad light on us when their practices, business or otherwise, are called into question.