A SCA Story


I remember when Bill Clinton was being impeached and people could not figure out why he would do such a stupid thing as to have sex with an intern and ruin everything he had worked for. It was then that I first heard the words “sex addict.”  At the time I was in a relationship with a man who I thought was the love of my life.  When we first got together we decided to be monogamous and I was completely in love.  Then one day at the gym I had sex with a stranger in the steam room.  It was at that point that I started hanging out in the wet area of the gym, and it was not long after that I was introduced to chat rooms online.  This new thing called the internet kicked my sexual compulsion into high speed.  My boyfriend and I had a little apartment, and I began hooking up with guys when he would go to work despite the high risk.  Afterwards, I would feel such shame and guilt, and I swore I would never do it again.  One day I went to the neighborhood book store and I was intriguing with a cute guy, and as I walked past him, I saw a sign with the words I had heard used about Bill Clinton, “Sex Addiction.”  And in that section there was a book called “Don’t Call It Love” by Dr. Patrick Carnes.  I bought the book and secretly read it on my way to work.  As I read the stories, I knew I was a sex addict.

My addiction was out of control.  I could not stop cheating.  I created a huge fight with my boyfriend and broke up with him. I was heartbroken, but I knew of no other way because I did not want to hurt him.  With him out of the picture, I started going to the bathhouse and hiring massage therapists.  I would go to the gym on my lunch break to have sex in the steam room.  One acting out partner was a doctor and I told him that I was a sex addict.  He said he had a friend who worked with sex addicts and gave me his number.  I saw this addiction therapist for a few months, and he did confirm that he thought I was a sex addict.  He advised me not to go to SCA because “they just hook up there.”  He also helped me identify that I had been sexualized as early as fourth grade by a neighborhood friend who had been molested by an older cousin.  It was good to know these things about my addiction, but the behavior did not stop.  The therapist asked me not to masturbate for a week, and I thought I was going to die.  Even with a therapist who specialized in sex addiction, I could not stop.

It was around that time that I decided to move to another city.  It was a fresh start, and I swore that I was going to change and I would never act out again.  It is not lost on me that my massage therapist helped me drive halfway across the country to my new home.  The first week after I arrived was amazing.  I did not act out and I had no desire to.  I had relief from acting out for the first time in years.  I was staying at a friend’s apartment. After I finally got the internet hooked up to my computer, the acting out resumed with a vengeance.  I was bringing strangers into my friend’s apartment and having unprotected sex with them in his bed.

I got my own apartment, a car and a job, so the acting out opportunities increased.  I had changed cities for my writing career, but each time I would sit down to write, I would get drawn into the chat rooms, looking for my next hookup.  My acting out had become a time killer.

My friend convinced me to join hundreds of bicyclists riding to fight AIDS.  I began raising funds for the ride while the whole time I was having unprotected sex with prostitutes and massage therapists.  I was living a double life.  I pretended to be such an upstanding person by raising funds for AIDS-related causes and I was having unprotected sex.  I could not stop. There was no PREP at that time. I was in constant fear that I would contract HIV, and I still could not stop.  I would get tested every few months and pray to God, “If it comes back negative I won’t do it again.”  The test would come back negative, and I would celebrate by having unprotected sex with a stranger, and the cycle continued.

On my 36th birthday, the same age as Marilyn Monroe when she died, I was doing the AIDS Ride and I was riding that morning with a friend.  I had already hooked up with several guys on the ride and it was only day 3.  I could not take it anymore and I broke down sobbing, telling my friend the whole story.  He told me his husband went to a group called SCA and it might be good for me to talk to him.  His husband and I rode together the rest of the afternoon and he introduced me to SCA.  A few weeks later I went to my first meeting, and when I heard the 14 Characteristics read aloud, I knew I was home.

My first few months in program were great.  I created a sexual recovery plan: “No unprotected sex.  No paid sex.”  It was so clear. And in the first few months it seemed to work.  I wanted this so much I would do anything.  I even went to an SCA retreat.

The night before the retreat I went out drinking and hooked up with a guy I met at a bar.  He went into my bathroom and did crystal meth.  He came into my bedroom and started simulating sex, but I was not involved, it was all in his imagination.  It was like seeing a blind mole dig into the dark earth.  I was so lost.  When I got to the retreat, I broke down and told my story to the group.  Again I had a reprieve.  That is where I met my first sponsor.  I was in the honeymoon phase of recovery.  I started doing the Steps with my sponsor.  At some point I didn’t call him when he wanted me to, and I missed a meeting we had scheduled, and he fired me.  I had never been fired from anything in my life!  I thought he was supposed to call me.  How could he do this?  Didn’t he know how hard this was for me?

Later that year, I went to an SCA convention, and at a workshop I heard a man speak.  He had the kind of recovery and life that I wanted, and I got the courage to ask him to be my sponsor.  I told him I was nervous and afraid he might fire me.  He told me that he was not getting paid to sponsor me and therefore he could not fire me.  The first thing he asked me to do was call him for 30 days.  I missed a few days and he would ask why.  Then he asked me to remove my computer from my home for 30 days.  How could I?  I needed it for work!  Reluctantly, I did.  I got my first little bit of sobriety.  I got 30 days on my plan.  But then around day 31, when the computer returned, I acted out.  My sponsor had me install a device that blocked pornography and inappropriate websites. That stopped the hookups from the internet, but I started going to bars instead. My sponsor then told me that I might have a drinking problem.  I could not believe he would say that. After all, I could stop for long periods of time and not even desire a drink!  He asked me, “When you drink, does your life become unmanageable?”   Well, I did always seem to act out sexually when I drank, and my life did become unmanageable.  I was a sex addict and an alcoholic.  It was as if I had been asleep in a bad dream and my sponsor woke me up.

I got about two years of sobriety at that time. I had a boyfriend and I did not cheat on him.  Then we broke up.  The problem was, I did not know what healthy sex was when I was single.  When I was in a relationship it was simple, no sex outside my relationship.  But what was healthy “single” sex like for me?  Then I had to create my new “single” sexual recovery plan: “No paid sex.  No unprotected sex.  And I have to go on a coffee date with the person to get to know them a bit.”  Sounded simple, but I could not stop losing my time.  When I had a partner, I was more motivated because I did not want to hurt him.  But when I was alone, I didn’t see how I was hurting myself.  And I really didn’t care.  At that time I allowed sensual massage on my plan as a part of having “single” sex.

I started drinking again because I still was not totally convinced I was an alcoholic.  I mean several years went by and I never really had the craving to drink, not like I did for sex, so therefore I could not possibly be an alcoholic.  It was in this period that I met the love of my life.  We quickly became exclusive and within a few months moved in together.  I changed my plan to, “No sex outside my relationship.”  And it worked for a few months.  Then I started getting sensual massages.  I would hire a bad boy, tell him to be good and then try to seduce him.  Cut to five years later.  We had a work Christmas party at our house.  I had been drinking and a new employee decided to stay later than the rest.  My partner went to bed and the employee tried to seduce me.  We engaged for a brief moment and then I told him I didn’t want this, that it felt wrong.  At that point he said he wanted $30,000 or he would sue me.  He was blackmailing me.  I immediately called my sponsor and he told me exactly what to do; he got me a lawyer and had me file a police report.  He had me go to 30 meetings in 30 days.  I stopped drinking again and I had another 2 years of sobriety.

Then life happened and my mother died of cancer.  While I was taking care of her I had the gift of sobriety, but a year after she died I started drinking again.  The sensual massage started again, and for the first time I had a blackout from drinking while I was getting a massage.  It was my bottom.  I now have no doubt that I am an alcoholic and a sex addict. When I stop drinking, I stop acting out.  As I write this I have 455 days of sobriety.  I cannot drink.  I cannot get a massage.  I cannot have sex outside of my relationship. I cannot look at porn.  That is what I have to do to stay sober.

I also have to replace that acting out behavior with positive new behaviors.  I now have 4 sponsees and we have a Step study at my house every other Tuesday.  I have a ritual every morning before I start my day: I meditate, do yoga stretches, read program literature and literature that helps me with my private religious practice, and I journal.  If I do not meditate, I don’t have a great day.  I have been the secretary of several meetings, worked on several convention committees and directed several of the SCA shows.  I have served on several committees for the retreats.  I have also started writing screenplays as a part of my sexual recovery plan.  I have to attend a minimum of one meeting a week. If I dabble in my gray area, I have to attend a meeting within 24 hours.

I don’t know why it works, but I know that if I do the combination of things mentioned above and make outreach calls, it seems to work.  I also know I am willing to do anything necessary to maintain my sobriety.  The most important thing I have learned is never give up.  Never give up.  No matter how many times I have fallen, I go back to a meeting and I share my story.  It is progress not perfection, and it is one day at a time.

History of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous in Toronto, Canada

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous in Toronto was started by two members who were looking for a different approach to “S” recovery from that of another “S” program. Colin K. recounts: “David M. and I were members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) for several years and, in the summer of 2000, we talked about bringing another ‘S’ fellowship to Toronto.  I believed that this was necessary at the time because I wanted to reclaim my sexuality in a healthy way, and there was not a lot of experience, strength and hope that would suggest that our fellow SLAA members were doing this – particularly for those of us who were single.”

“David M. and I met for coffee and looked over the literature we had received from SCA and another fellowship that dealt with sexual compulsion, namely Sex Addicts Anonymous  (SAA). I liked the tools that SCA had to offer. In particular, I liked the concept of the Sexual Recovery Plan and the fact that SCA was founded by gay men, and inclusive of all sexual orientations (David and I were both gay).  The Sexual Recovery Plan was very appealing – sobriety was self-defined as before by listing the behaviors to be avoided, however, on the other side, there was a list of the things that were to be added to make recovery worthwhile.  This could include actions that would result in attaining a healthy sexuality. Sexual Recovery Plans differed from member to member, and were based on personal history and circumstances.”

“The Sexual Recovery Plan was like a breath of fresh air.  There were a couple of additional factors that swayed us – the term ‘sexual compulsive’ was a bit easier to swallow for newcomers who may have had difficulty with the term ‘sex addict,’ as well as the fact that the preamble stated that the intent was not to repress our God-given sexuality.  We were sold on SCA, and agreed to move forward with our plan and bring SCA to Toronto.  We initially decided that two meetings per week would be held. In a subsequent coffee meeting, we used the SCA Blue Book to draw up the format for our meetings. The basic format was this – we would read from SCA material then share on the reading, followed by a ‘getting current’ sharing segment (also known as ‘open sharing’). This basic format has survived to the present day, although some additional wording has been included and minor changes have been made to it along the way.” 

“In August, 2000, we commenced a search for meeting locations.  We approached local churches and institutions, such as hospitals and community centres.  We decided on the Women’s College Hospital at 76 Grenville Street as a meeting place due to its central location, good conference room, close proximity to the Church-Wellesley gay village, and ‘pay what you can’ approach to rent.  There were no other Twelve Step groups meeting there at the time, and it was felt that this would give the group a new and fresh start. Also, scheduling of the meetings was easier at the hospital, as the other potential locations were already hosting a number of community groups, and scheduling our chosen meeting days would therefore have been more difficult elsewhere.”

The first meeting of SCA in Toronto took place at the beginning of October, 2000. Meetings were held on Sunday evenings and Thursday nights. SCA in Toronto celebrates our founding anniversary on the First of October.

Colin K. continues:  “Our first meeting consisted mainly of SLAA members who knew us. These people continued to attend, but most did not want to leave SLAA.  We soon realized the need for community outreach in order to carry the message and to build our membership. We approached the LGBT newspaper ‘Xtra!’ in order to obtain an Xtra phone extension.  Xtra was the most widely circulated free gay newspaper in the city, and provided groups that served the LGBT community with an extension to their main phone number.  The names and extensions were published in Xtra’s weekly paper, and this service was free to non-profit community groups such as ours. We signed with Xtra for our ‘Xtension Agreement’ on October 12, 2000. Our introductory message with group information was then recorded, consisting of the SCA preamble and the times and location of our two weekly meetings.  This was updated from time to time until the creation of our local website.”

The summer of 2002 brought changes to the Toronto fellowship. Women’s College Hospital had been undergoing considerable transition, and gave notice that the rent for the meeting room would be raised to a level the group could not afford. Additionally, there were tensions and divisions among a number of the members.

In September, 2002, Colin K. decided to establish another SCA meeting on Fridays. He relates: “At the time, it was thought that attending a meeting at the start of a weekend would give members enough strength to last through the weekend.  An application had been submitted to the local LGBT Community Centre (The 519 Church Street Community Centre) in September, 2002, however, we did not hear back from them for some time. As a result, St. Luke’s United Church at 353 Sherbourne Street was approached in early October, 2002.  The church was agreeable to hosting our meetings.  Our first meeting there took place on Friday, October 18, 2002.  The group met here until December 27, 2002.  At that point, we were informed that the board of the 519 Church Street Community Centre had finally approved our application for the use of their space.  The meeting never really took off at St. Luke’s and so the members decided to move to The 519.  Another issue was that the 7th Tradition collections could not cover the $75 per month fee that St. Luke’s United Church was requesting.”

“It was hoped that the gay village location and popularity of the 519 Church Street Community Centre would attract more newcomers.  Also, there was no set room rental fee at the community centre, and this was very helpful until such time as we were able to ‘get on our feet’ financially. Meetings at The 519 began on Friday, January 3, 2003.”

The Women’s College Hospital meetings closed in October, 2002. David M. and Tony I. set up a new meeting at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 188 Carlton Street on Tuesday evenings. Initially, this was an SCA meeting and attended by many of the members from the Women’s College Hospital meeting along with the other new meeting at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. Some weeks later though, David M. and Tony I. explored the Sex Addicts Anonymous fellowship, contacting their International Service Organization, and the Tuesday SCA meeting at St. Peter’s was converted to an SAA meeting. This represented the founding of SAA in Toronto. 

SCA in Toronto therefore continued with one meeting per week, on Fridays at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, from 2003 until 2006. The Friday meeting gradually became popular and the group had a reasonable number of members so, with group agreement, Kevin B. decided to establish another meeting. There was a search for a suitable and affordable meeting place for a couple of years, and eventually the group also started meeting on Tuesday evenings at St. Andrew’s United Church, 117 Bloor Street East from Tuesday, September 26, 2006 onwards.   

The group had discussed outreach strategies at a series of business meetings from 2005 on and, with the prevailing changes in publishing and the ongoing development and expansion of the internet, a significant area of focus was the need for a website to carry the SCA message of recovery in the local area. The group set up a basic website in September, 2006.  

The two weekly SCA meetings gave members more stability and structure in which to recover, and the new website attracted more newcomers. Slowly, the Toronto fellowship grew.

SCA Toronto had had various routine dealings with SCA’s International Service Organization over the years, for literature orders and problems with literature shipments mostly, but we reached out to ISO in July, 2007 for more significant assistance with a website misdirect that meant people looking for SCA were encountering SAA locally instead. We contacted ISO again in July, 2008, when our members were ambushed after a meeting by a notorious pick-up artist who was filming a documentary. This contact led to Toronto having an ISO Representative at the Annual ISO Conference for the first time by telephone in February, 2009. SCA Toronto members then became involved in ISO Inreach Committee service work, part of which was to reach out to the former SCA group in Montreal, Quebec, which was found to have converted entirely to an SAA group. It was determined that Toronto was the only remaining city in Canada with a physical SCA presence, Ottawa meetings that we knew to have been in existence around 2003 and 2004 also having folded.

Frank H., an SCA founder from New York, visited Toronto and attended meetings for roughly a year from 2009 to 2010. Frank H. later sent us a copy of a letter dated April 1, 1985 which was part of an exchange between him and individuals of a group called “Obsessive and Compulsive Sexual Behaviour” in Toronto. This group had written to SCA in New York about sexual recovery and the SCA program. We were not aware of that group or what became of it, and to our knowledge SCA as such was not present in Toronto before October, 2000, although both the fellowships of Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) were.

With the advent of some new members with experience in other “S” fellowships and different Twelve Step programs, and a solid core group attending the two existing Toronto SCA meetings around 2010, Eugene S. started a third weekly SCA meeting on Wednesdays. The noon meeting at St. Basil’s Church Parish Office at 50 St. Joseph Street in downtown Toronto began taking place on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

SCA Toronto hosted the Annual ISO Conference in Toronto from April 20 to 22, 2012, representing the first time the ISO Conference had been held outside the United States of America. SCA Toronto has had in-person representation at ISO Conferences subsequently.

As of this writing, SCA in Toronto continues to hold three weekly meetings, on Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m., Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. respectively. Over the years, our membership has waxed and waned, but our meetings nevertheless persist. SCA Toronto is a small fellowship, but perfectly viable. All those with a desire to stop having compulsive sex and to work the SCA program of recovery from sexual compulsion can find the framework, resources and support to do so in our group!

Submitted by Colin K. and Kevin B.,

SCA Toronto, October 1, 2015.