If you are trying to break a pornography addiction, one of the best things you can do is to find a group that you can join in addition to doing individual counselling. Fortunately, there are a number of great options out there to choose from depending on what is available in your area or whether or not you are looking for something that fits with your faith/beliefs or your goals for sobriety. Today, we are looking at 6 of the largest groups available so that you can make a choice about what might work best for your situation.

A number of porn and sex addiction groups came into being in the 1970s, probably in response to the sexual revolution.[1] A number of these groups have been around for a long time and they are well established. But they are not all the same — we’ll try to articulate those differences as we go through so be sure to note what seems to be a good fit for you based on the information we provide about each group. Try to pick a couple because you’ll also want to go on their websites and see if one of them has a group near you.

Group 1: Pure Desire

Website: https://puredesire.org/

About: 

Pure Desire Ministries International began in a local church. It was founded by Ted and Diane Roberts. It began as a program to help people with addictions and codependency. Over two decades, they developed a strategy for working with sex addiction that is both Biblically-based, clinically informed, and successful in creating change. In 2007, it became an independent 501c3. It has expanded beyond the church it started in and become internationally known. Their services are available in Canada, the United States, and around the world.

Pure Desire is a Christian organization designed to help men, women and young adults recover from sex addiction and intimacy disorders. They have specific groups for men, women, young men, young women, and college-age men.

Training:

Their counselors also have training through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction (IITAP) and are licensed as either Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT) or Pastoral Sex Addiction Professionals (PSAP).

In-Person or Online:

Pure Desire offers both local and online groups. The local groups are volunteer-led and the online groups are led by a Certified Pure Desire Group Leader.

Program:

They have groups both for those struggling with addiction and for those struggling with betrayal. It’s difficult to see what the program is for local groups, but their online groups are a 2 hour-long weekly meeting with 1-2 hours of homework a week. It’s a 10-month long commitment in total.

Fees:

The local, volunteer led groups are free, but the online groups led by one of their leaders are a paid commitment. At the time of this writing, the group for addicts was $490 plus resources (about $60) and the group for betrayed spouses was $290 plus the resources (US Dollars).

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

The founder of Pure Desire, Ted Roberts, was working alongside Pat Carnes when he was doing his research and started writing about sex addiction back in the 90’s. It’s very well-grounded clinically as well as Biblically with a lot of experience helping people recover from porn and sex addiction.

Group 2: Celebrate Recovery

Websites:

  1. https://www.celebraterecovery.com/ (Around the world)
  2. https://www.celebraterecovery.ca/ (Canada)

About:

Celebrate Recovery offers a faith-based 12 step program. They began in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California when John Baker wrote a letter to Rick Warren, the senior pastor outlining the vision God had given him for starting Celebrate Recovery. John is still the primary author of the Celebrate Recovery curriculum and materials. Though it has Christian affiliation and a biblical approach to addictions treatment, more than 70% of their members come from outside the church.

Celebrate Recovery began with just four Open Share Groups and has expanded to over 14 groups today. 43 people attended the first meeting and now over 27,000 people have gone through the program locally, many of whom now serve in Celebrate Recovery and the church. Celebrate Recovery is the number one outreach ministry at Saddleback Church.

There are now 35,000 churches offering these groups around the world. To date, over 5 million people have completed their Step Study program. Celebrate Recovery is growing in other places than churches including recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. In August 2004, the organization was announced as California’s state-approved substance abuse program for prisons. 1 out of every 3 people who attend one of their programs struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

In-Person or Online:

The program is in-person only, and if you go to their website you can look for “Find a Group” on their menus to look for one near you. Here’s a short link to the locator: https://locator.crgroups.info/

They also host an annual ALLTogether rally at Saddleback which are a time of worship, hearing testimonies of recovery, inspiration, and fellowship. Recovery is not a prerequisite and all are welcome. See their website for details.

Program:

Their groups are for people dealing with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. They take the 12 steps from Alcoholics Anonymous and add a biblical component to each concept. They also use 8 Recovery Principles that are faith-based principles, which are meant to work alongside the 12 steps to help members work towards recovery.

Fees:

There is no cost for participating in a group, but there are small fees for resources such as Celebrate Recovery Bibles, Celebrate Recovery Journals, or a Celebrate Recovery Participants’ Guide.

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

They claim a success rate of nearly 85 percent. It should be noted that while it does follow a 12-step program, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, there are no specific guidelines for what individuals who sign up are breaking free from. They don’t specialize only in pornography or sexual addiction, so it is not as targeted an approach as some of the other groups on our list. If there’s not a targeted group in your area that is specific to porn and sex addiction, then you would do well to seek out a CR group.

Group 3: Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)

Website: https://www.sa.org/

About:

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935. Since then, dozens of other forms of 12-step fellowships have been founded, following a similar 12-step program in Simi Valley California. One of these fellowships was Sexaholics Anonymous, which was founded in the 1970s by a man struggling with sex addiction who adapted the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program for sex addiction, creating Sexaholics Anonymous.

The group is for men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with one another. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and to become “sexually sober.” There are a handful of AA spinoffs related to sex or porn addictions or to betrayed spouses and the major differentiator between these groups is often around their definition of sexual sobriety. It’s basically a moral differentiator between the groups.

SA’s definition of sexual sobriety is to have no form of sex with self or with persons other than one’s spouse (if one is married). In SA’s sobriety definition, the term “spouse” refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman. For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all members, sexual sobriety includes progressive victory over lust (Sexaholics Anonymous Manual, 191-192).

Sexaholics Anonymous has no affiliation with any religion or organization, but they do talk about a Higher Power, much like AA groups.

In-Person or Online:

They have in-person conventions at various locations including Sumas Washington, Atlanta Georgia, and Toronto Canada. See website for details.

SA meetings can be found in person, by email or by phone. They have in-person groups throughout the USA and Canada.

Program:

The program is designed specifically for people dealing with sex addiction and porn addiction. There are groups throughout the U.S. Visit their website to find a group near you.

Fees:

There is no cost for SA membership. The group is self-supporting through member’s own contributions.

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

The program is for both genders, but also particularly addresses women and the shame many women experience with sex addiction. A number of women have given testimonies of having found freedom from sexual addiction through SA. Some other groups are more focused on men’s issues. One concern with SA groups is that if you are heterosexual you want to be particularly careful about coed groups, especially if there’s a possibility that someone else in the group could be the kind of person you would have acted out with. That’s a very considerable risk factor that for some people will mean they need to find a male-only or female-only group instead.

It’s worth noting that the group has certainly helped many people, and has the benefit of being free and providing a free manual. There are no studies on the effectiveness of the groups.

One area of criticism that SA does get targeted for is being more Christian than it claims to be. For example, the group has received harsh criticism from Morty Finklestein, who did a comparison of the different groups. He states that “Sexaholics Anonymous is by far the most rigid, fundamentalist and conservative of all the fellowships. Most of its members, like its founder Roy K. are religious.” (Though the group is not specifically religious, the 12-steps are religious in nature).[2] They also want members to strive towards only having sex with their spouse if they are married, and they encourage same-sex attracted members to remain celibate.

6 Porn Groups To Help Your Recovery

We have a supplement to today’s show for our much appreciated Patreon supporters. It’s actually a scale for measuring pornography addiction. So, if you’re not sure if you have a problem or not, or if you want to see how severe your addiction might be, you’ll definitely want to download the PDF on our Patreon page and fill it out. You can get this by becoming a patron of The Marriage Podcast for Smart People.

Group 4: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

Website: https://slaafws.org/

About:

S.L.A.A. is a program dedicated to anyone, men or women, who suffer from an addictive compulsion to engage in or avoid sex, love, or emotional attachment. They use the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous to help individuals recover from these compulsions.

One of the differences from the SA groups is that in the SLAA groups you define your own sobriety. But they are gathering in order to face and deal with obsessive or compulsive behaviors. There is no religious or secular affiliation and they welcome people of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

In-Person or Online:

In-person groups in Canada and the USA. They also have online groups and an option for phone meetings. See the website to see if there is a group near you. Every year they have a conference. In 2020 it’s in Sacramento, California (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, n.d.).

Program:

The goal is that by giving and receiving support from others in similar situations, you have a better chance of recovering, and also learn how to engage with people in a non-addictive way.

They provide literature: the S.L.A.A. Basic Text, which contains information about discovering the illness, beginning recovery, defining sobriety, the Twelve Steps of S.L.A.A., and contains personal stories of others who have gone from addiction to recovery. There are also pamphlets that can be useful. Groups are led by other members rather than official facilitators.

Fees:

There is no cost for meetings.

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

They go beyond just sex and porn addiction to love addiction and help you work on building healthy relationships. They also provide some resources for people with eating disorders, which can be related to relationship issues. Many issues such as pornography are related to these bigger issues, which the program helps you address.

Group 5: L.I.F.E. Recovery International

Website: https://liferecoverygroups.com/

About:

Since 2000, their ministry has helped countless people experience freedom from sexual addiction using Dr. Mark Laaser’s seven principles to Living in Freedom Every Day (or L.I.F.E.).

The late Dr. Laaser was nationally recognized as the leading authority in the field of sexual addiction with over 27 years of recovery experience.

L.I.F.E. Recovery International is a Christ-centered support group ministry whose mission is to encourage, empower, and equip God’s people to live every day in integrity. L.I.F.E. provides consistently-revised addiction recovery workbook resources, educational multimedia presentations, and support group structure to the Christian community across the globe.

In-Person or Online:

Groups are in person. They also offer telephone support groups. Most groups are in the United States.

Program:

The program is for men and women. It offers a step-by-step program with definite goals each month for a year.

Fees:

There is no cost for joining a group. For all groups, it is recommended that members make a $5 donation to the group as an investment in their healing.

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

It provides help for spouses, men and women. They also have a couples’ guide that couples can work through together. The group seems to provide the most structure of many of the free groups, particularly compared to other faith-based groups such as The King’s Men. The program includes different tasks to be completed each month.

The program was also developed by Dr. Laaser, who specializes in sex addiction. Other faith-based programs apart from Pure Desire can tend to emphasize spirituality over clinical training.

Group 6: The King’s Men

Website https://www.thekingsmen.org/

About:

The King’s Men is a Catholic group founded by Mark Houck. Their goal is to address the issue of man’s role in the body of Christ. The group has over twenty total years of experience in dynamic lecturing, expert teaching, and workshop training. They offer a variety of options for conferences, retreats, and other speaking engagements. They speak to men, women, and youth on a variety of topics.

In-Person or Online:

Groups are in-person at a variety of locations. Check out the website for locations.

Program:

The groups deal with masculinity and sexual morality in general, and pornography as part of that. Their program is based on four pillars: education, formation, action, healing. They offer weekly formation and accountability meetings called TKM Men’s Groups. The program has been developed and refined by experts in masculine spirituality. The meetings combine prayer, education, and an action-oriented component called the Four C’s. The meetings offer men an opportunity to grow in virtue and accountability using the Biblical maxim that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17).

Fees:

The website does not mention any fee for joining a group.

Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups:

The group places less emphasis on counseling from trained counselors, but it is a Catholic-based approach if that’s important to you. It targets porn addiction, so if you’re dealing with sex addiction, it’s probably not a good fit.

References

[1] Finklestein, “Which Sex Addiction Program Do You Belong In?,” 2013, https://www.thefix.com/content/sexual-addiction-sex-recovery2002?page=all.
[2] Finklestein.