From the moment I started to take this program seriously and work the Steps with a sponsor who works the Steps with a sponsor of his own (and so on) it has been crystal clear to me that our main focus and primary purpose is the Twelfth Step—carrying the message.
The obvious areas of Twelfth Step work include—but are not limited to: being a part of the fellowship, sharing responsibly and happily at meetings, making coffee or setting up the chairs and of course, sponsoring others through the Steps.
That being said, I have been blessed and privileged to have many opportunities to partake in another type of Twelfth Step work through my home group’s insistence on carrying the message to a wider circle—to therapists, healthcare professionals, members of the clergy, students, family members of addicts, and the general public.
We do so by being the only SA group in Israel (at the moment, hopefully many more will join us) that has an open meeting; once a month on the first Tuesday of the month, our meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend and learn. We have seen all types of people visit us who have learned much about addiction in general, and sexaholism specifically. Rabbis and priests; college students studying psychology, social work, or criminology; researchers; family and friends of SA members; therapists, and more!
Ten minutes before the end of our meeting we have time for questions from our guests where they are invited to share and ask questions. Members who are sober and have completed their 4th Step answer the questions and, after the meeting, we stay and entertain our guests until the last one leaves. Each guest is a potential “ambassador” of the Twelve Step solution to someone who is suffering and, more often than not, we have seen this connection grow exponentially.
Another area that has privileged me with extensive and fascinating Step 12 work was when I served as chair of Israel’s PIC (public information committee). Our committee organized and orchestrated many public outreach conferences through which we were able to spread the SA solution in a more thorough and structured manner. This is how we worked:
- We chose a city and found a venue for the conference.
- We picked a date and time that would maximize attendance (morning or evening? weekend or middle of the week?)
- We built the content and booked the speakers – in our case it usually looked something like this:
✅ Half hour introduction entitled “What are the 12 steps and what is SA?”
✅ Half hour personal story entitled “What is a sexaholic?” (male member)
✅ Half hour personal story titled “Are there women sexaholics?” (female member)
✅ Half hour family story entitled “What about the family?” (S-Anon speaker and in full cooperation with S-Anon fellowship)
✅ Half hour for questions and answers
✅ Conference total runtime – 3 hours
- Made sure the speakers had experience in this type of Step 12 work (what would be most beneficial to focus on in front of people from outside our fellowship)
- Get the word out and manage signup (design online and offline flyers, call contacts, send messages and emails etc.)
- Buy coffee and other refreshments for the guests and set up the venue
- Let go and let God
To enable us to get to those who couldn’t make it to our conferences or would like to have a resource to work with, we also created a Public Information Booklet with content on the fellowship, the 12 Step solution and answers to frequently asked questions (in both print and PDF versions that we distribute freely anywhere we can).
When creating and nurturing relationships with those outside the SA fellowship, it is very important to keep some things in mind, and luckily, these things are written out for us in the 12 traditions: we do not discuss any outside issues, we keep anonymity, and we adhere to our primary purpose—to carry the message to the sexaholic who still suffers.
When we remember these spiritual concepts and strive to maintain them (progress, not perfection) while doing this type of Step 12 work–carrying the message to those who suffer through the professional community and wider public–we can really make a difference and save lives. I know that our impact here locally has been huge, and for the privilege of participating in this wonderful process, I am never sufficiently grateful.
(Picture of Public Outreach Conference with attendance of over 40 people)
(Picture of Public Information Booklet)
(Picture of Public Information Conference flyer)
Matan C., Jerusalem, Israel