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Goals and Rewards in Sexual Recovery

Once SCA members get their First Step or bottom-line behaviors under control—namely the acts, people, places and things over which they are powerless and that make their lives unmanageable—a major part of sexual recovery consists of the members working on their objectives, goals and rewards. In terms of a sexual recovery plan, these are also known as top line behaviors, right side or third column activities, and sometimes as parts of an action plan or vision plan.

SCA and other sexual recovery literature discusses the nature and benefits of these objectives, goals and rewards.   

From: SCA Three-Column Sexual Recovery Plan Guide:

Third Column: Staying sober is more than just stopping our acting out behaviors – we must replace the time and energy spent in acting out with healthier diversions, hobbies and pleasures. We rebuild our connections to the people, places and activities that gave us joy, or discover new things. In our Third Column we try to include at least a few simple things easy to start out with.

I want to add to my life in recovery these people, places, and things that give me joy:


From: SCA Quadrant Sexual Recovery Plan Guide:

Action Plan & Vision Plan

Things that I pray to my Higher Power to bring into my life:


Action Plan

Actions I take on a daily basis in order to stay sober:

Step work: Steps, writing, inventory, amends, work with sponsor 

Support: Meetings, fellowship, phone, SCA events, retreats

Service: Sponsees, newcomers, program commitments

Spirituality: Surrender, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading

Self-care: Exercise, work, bills, mail, cleaning, responsibilities

Vision Plan 

Goals I want to achieve as a result of taking these actions:

Self: Self-esteem, positive body image, accept imperfections

Social: Close friends, part of community, clubs/hobbies

Material: Good career, car, home, debt free, financially stable

From: “Moving Through Withdrawal,” SCA Pamphlet:

“In the ‘right’ column, we listed those people, places, and activities we wanted to bring into our lives, to fill the time and mental space we had devoted to acting out. At first, some of us could not think of what to write in that third column. We found that ‘Easy Does It’ was a good guide for this section of the Plan, and that leaving it blank at the beginning was perfectly all right.  As our recovery progressed, we realized there were dreams we had shelved to pursue our addiction, and we could add these to the third column: seeing a ballet, learning the guitar, or traveling to a dreamed-of foreign country, for example.”

From: “Q & A – Questions & Answers for Newcomers to Sexual Compulsives Anonymous,” SCA Pamphlet:

“The list is balanced, on the other side, by those things we want to reward ourselves with and add to our lives in recovery. These rewards are a very important aspect of the plan. They may consist of personal, professional and spiritual goals that we sacrificed through ‘acting out’ our compulsive patterns. They may be as specific or as general as you desire. Many members, especially newcomers, find this side of the recovery plan especially difficult because they are accustomed to thinking of themselves as unworthy and undeserving of rewards, but the rewards should not be neglected. They are the things that make staying in recovery worthwhile.”

From: “What About Masturbation?” in the SCA Blue Book:

Replacing Empty Behavior with Fulfilling Behavior

“Many have found it helpful that for every boundary, every act or thing we abstain from, we replace the negative with loving, supportive behavior so that our lives are not left with the gaping, empty holes that our dysfunctional behavior seemed to, yet failed to, fill. These replacements can be anything from fun behavior rewards to coping techniques to support networks (meetings, phone calls, dates, time alone, cultural events, exercise, time spent with a hobby, etc.).”

From: “Avoiding Common Pitfalls on the Road of Recovery,” SCA Pamphlet:

“We review our Sexual Recovery Plans with our sponsors, paying particular attention to the list of positive things that we want to do instead of acting out. Are our rewards things that we can actually get excited about doing, or are they merely a ‘should’ list? If we are used to the adrenaline rush of compulsive sex, we are unlikely to get very enthusiastic about rewards limited to things like ‘eating more vegetables,’ ‘losing weight,’ and ‘trying harder to keep my living space clean and tidy.’ We ask ourselves what we would really like to be doing. We try listing some items that are within easy reach, and commit to actually doing them. But we also include some longer term ‘goal’ items, such as earning or saving up money to spend on a vacation in our favorite city or country, beautifying our home, or starting a garden. We think of things that we always wanted to do, but could never get around to doing because we were spending so much time or money (or both) on compulsive sex, and we add those to our list.”

From: The SAA Basic Text, Page 19:

“Finally, we put those behaviours in the outer circle that we consider healthy, safe, and beneficial to our recovery. Practicing these behaviours is a way of being gentle with ourselves. They are acts of self-nurturing that help bring meaning, fulfillment, serenity, and joy into our lives.

Outer circle behaviours encompass a wide range of healthy activities. They are frequently the things we didn’t have time to do when we were acting out. Examples may include working our recovery program, rediscovering hobbies we once enjoyed, playing sports and exercising, spending time with friends and family, socializing and making new friends in a safe environment, volunteering our time to a cause we believe in, or engaging in any other activities which make our lives more enjoyable and meaningful.

Most of us include healthy sexuality in our outer circle. Healthy sexual behaviours are ones we choose that enhance our life, our recovery, our connection to others, and our spiritual life. Examples might include dating, safe and loving sex within a committed relationship, non-compulsive masturbation, taking a dance class, wearing attractive clothes, or enjoying affectionate touch.

Throughout this process, it is extremely helpful to have the guidance of a sponsor or other more experienced members of the fellowship. Experience has shown that it is too difficult to sort through these issues by ourselves or to see through the denial that often obscures the truth about our behavior. With the help of other SAA members, we gain the awareness and sense of support that we need in order to move into recovery.”

From: “What is a Sexual Recovery Plan?” in the SCA Blue Book:

“We are also mindful that in our new life of recovery we need to replace our old attitudes, sexual and related activity with new activity, people, places and things. These are vital elements of our life that we neglected or never sought in our addictive past. Gradually we are able to add more and more positive sexual activities, and for most SCA members, the sexual recovery plan is continually deepening and evolving.”

“The goal is not to eliminate or repress sexuality, but rather to integrate it into our lives as God intends. Like the compulsive over eater, our aim is to achieve freedom and responsibility in using a fundamental human process. Since both food and sex are good, we seek God’s guidance in determining which sexual actions, relationships, environments and things are appropriate for our lives.”

“Sexuality that is honest, caring, life-affirming and enriching is freeing, integrated into our lives, and enables us to deal with life on life’s terms.”  

Note: SCA does not stipulate any particular form or type of Sexual Recovery Plan for its members. The templates and examples provided on this site are intended only as helpful guides. Each member is free to devise their own sexual recovery plan.