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Sexual Recovery Plan (SRP)

What Is a Sexual Recovery Plan?

It’s a “statement of intent” of what a member will or will not do sexually. For many of us, the sexual recovery plan is the very core of the SCA program — a commitment to recovery. It’s both a practical means of getting a good hard look at our compulsion, and a giant step in breaking away from it.

Newcomers tend to fear the recovery plan as a repressive measure. But SCA exists to free us from the constraints of sexual compulsion, and the purpose of the sexual recovery plan is not to make our sex lives more rigid, but to liberate them. The nature of the compulsion is to veil our true sexual desires with fantasy and confusion. A sexual recovery plan enables us to break through the chaos and make decisions about how we want to handle this sensitive part of our lives. It is essentially a process of “peeling the onion” to find what our desires really are, and then of deciding what action must be taken to realize them. By setting guidelines for our behavior, the plan frees us from having to make anxiety-provoking choices in the confusion of sexual excitement, and frees us for honest interaction with another person.

Beginners often stress the don’ts, and start off with ideals that prove impossible to realize. We learn through working on the recovery plan to beware of putting too many restrictions on ourselves. 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 which 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.

Many are able to alter their behavior immediately through the use of a sexual recovery plan; others wean themselves away from practices they decide are negative. Often we decide on a bottom line of activities we do not indulge in under any circumstances. But while one purpose of a sexual recovery plan is to keep us from “negotiating” with our sexuality, some keep a “gray area” of sexual activity we can sometimes permit ourselves.

Some of us decide on a period of complete abstinence, either at the beginning or at some time during our recovery, when other plans didn’t work.

Many of us learn in sobriety that we are in fact deeply afraid of non-compulsive sex. The sexual recovery plan can be a means of reviewing these fears and of giving ourselves permission to truly enjoy our sexuality — perhaps for the first time.

Why a Written Sexual Recovery Plan?

The majority of members have found it most effective to put their sexual recovery plans in writing, working up a list of do’s and don’t s for future behavior. For those who are having trouble with an unwritten plan, a written one may be the solution. The very act of committing a plan to paper seems to clarify thinking about sex and romantic obsessions; indeed some members have stated that only when they began writing a formal sexual recovery plan did they realize what they wanted their sex lives to be.

It is important to decide on which practices are peculiarly destructive to us, and for some the starting point of a sexual recovery plan is some particular activity they want to alter. Others need to rethink every aspect of their sexuality. Having a written plan also prevents our denial system from rationalizing changes in our recovery plan on the spot, as a sexual encounter presents itself.

What about Discussing My Sexual Recovery Plan with Others?

Most of us find this helpful. From the very beginning of our sex lives, most sexual compulsives have felt unable to discuss with other people the things that were causing us the most pain. We felt ineligible for the help and guidance available to “normal” people, and many of us still tend to regard sex as a very lonely business.

We have allowed this basic instinct to become so shrouded over with mystery and emotion — or with a reactionary cynicism — that we are unable to trust our own sexual and romantic value systems. It is important for us to break these destructive patterns of isolation and self-pity by learning to share with others who will understand.

It’s not a good idea to make random changes in a sexual recovery plan: most of us discuss them first with another member or a sponsor. Sharing our sexual recovery plan gets it out of our heads and makes it a living, growing thing. We discuss our plan with people in the program we have learned to trust. This could be at meetings, or over coffee with a group or a sponsor. Nobody knows more about our sexuality — its problems and potentials — than we ourselves. But we can’t get to that knowledge without the help of other people. Then, too, many of us are overly scrupulous, and discussing the details of our plan can give us a more objective outlook.

What If Others Don’t Like My Sexual Recovery Plan?

Nobody has the right to approve or disapprove of anybody else’s sexual recovery plan. The SCA Statement of Purpose specifically states that members define sexual sobriety for themselves. This is why it is important for us to learn to become honest with ourselves, which we are best able to do in an atmosphere of love and support. These are the healing elements in this program. We discourage gossip and criticism.

We learn to support our fellow members even if our sexual recovery plans differ. And by doing so we come to feel their support for us as well.

What Will a Sexual Recovery Plan Do for Me?

A sexual recovery plan both provides a guideline for changing sexual behavior, and gives us some kind of reassurance that, as other members are finding a path out of their initial fear, and confusion, we will find one, too.

Most of us discover that following a sexual recovery plan frees us to make full use of the Twelve Steps, and the other tools of SCA.

How Do I Write a Sexual Recovery Plan?

Writing and utilizing a sexual recovery plan is based on the fourth and fifth steps. In making a fearless moral inventory of our sexual behavior we ask our Higher Power’s help in evaluating all aspects of our sexual past. The AA Big Book addresses this rigorous honesty about sexuality: “In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test — was it selfish or not? We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.” (p. 69)

By looking for God’s will in each sexual decision, we look for release from the actions, people, places and things which have made our lives unmanageable.

But unlike completely giving up drinking as in AA, we do not strive for abstinence and celibacy as an end. In SCA, members define sobriety for themselves. Abstinence, partial or total, is a tool of the program which enables members to gain clarity about the choices they want to make with their sexuality. 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. The characteristics most of us seem to have in common indicate the sexual activity that is obsessive, compulsive, dishonest, manipulative, exploitative and abusive; that has made our lives unmanageable. 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.

A sexual recovery plan is based on the principle that by identifying the facets of our compulsion and asking for assistance from our Higher Power, we can replace an unacceptable lifestyle with a positive, progressive, enriched one. The Third Step Prayer from page 63 of Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book), as adapted for us in SCA, reads as follows:

God, I offer myself to You — to build with me and to do with me as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, and my sexual compulsion, that I may better do Your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your Power, Your Love, and Your way of life. May I do Your will always.

Here is a suggested format for writing a sexual recovery plan. Use it to write your own plan. Some examples of recovery plans by SCA members are on the following pages.


A Sexual Recovery Plan is a written guideline of those people, places and things that do and do not work for us as sexual compulsives. The purpose of this plan is to make clear to ourselves on paper the ways that we wish to express ourselves. Having a clearly defined written plan frees us to conduct ourselves in ways that are personally appropriate. Any plan is valid which is written down, shared with another person and followed to the best of one’s ability. The suggested outline below is based on the idea that we can act upon our compulsions without thought.

Here’s How It Works:

  1. Identify the acts, places and people from which you would like to be freed.
  2. Identify the times these compulsions most frequently occur.
  3. List the people, places or things you are willing to commit yourself to adding to your life in recovery (be realistic by adding things that you are willing to do A not things you think you should do).


Recovery Plan One

Those people, places and things I pray to my Higher Power to be freed from:

  • Hustlers.
  • Love addictions and romantic obsessions.
  • Compulsive cruising.
  • Use of sex as a drug to escape from feelings.

These are the times I am most likely to act out:

  • Early morning before or on my way to work.
  • When I am home alone at night.

Those acts, people, places, and things I want to reward myself with and add to my new life of recovery:

  • A period of healing and of professional, emotional and spiritual growth.
  • An improved ability to keep my attention in the present moment.
  • One more day of sobriety on this plan.

Recovery Plan Two

Those people, places and things I pray to my Higher Power to be freed from:

  • Compulsive masturbation.
  • Sex on the first encounter.
  • Sex as the sole activity of the encounter.
  • Sex as the primary activity of the encounter.
  • Sex as the reason for the encounter.
  • Sex outside of a caring relationship.

Those acts, people, places and things I want to reward myself with and add to my new life of recovery:

  • For today, healthy sexual behavior for me must be part of an ongoing building of intimacy — an expression of an already existing intimacy. I must be comfortable including the person with family and friends; interested in just necking with him; interested in sleeping with him; have already spent time with him with a non-sexual focus; interested in the person as a friend; willing to be a friend only.

Recovery Plan Three

Those people, places and things I pray to my Higher Power to be freed from:

  • Anonymous sex
  • Hustlers
  • Poppers
  • Pornography
  • Obsessive/compulsive thinking

These are the times I am most likely to act out:

  • Morning
  • Late night
  • Noon

Those acts, people, places and things I want to reward myself with and add to my new life of recovery:

  • Meetings
  • Program calls
  • Prayer
  • Clarity
  • Journalizing
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Healthy eating
  • Music
  • Truth
  • Dating

Recovery Plan Four

After three years on a liberal plan I had a massive one-day slip. Since then, I have had a 90-day period committed to total abstinence and a two-month relationship. I am now comfortably and completely abstinent, but interested in a committed relationship. My current plan:

  • Sex only with someone in whom I have an emotional and social interest, and with whom there is a possibility of mutual commitment.
  • No masturbation.
  • Try to get to know people I might be interested in. Join groups and go to dances where I might meet potential mates.
  • Make dates with people on the street, but no instant sex.
  • No cruising at the piers, bookstores, tea-rooms — don’t even go in rest areas.
  • No pornography or personal ads.
  • Pray for God’s help every morning and thank Him every night.

Recovery Plan Five

  • No sex at all. And no alcohol or drugs.

I started in SCA and AA at the same time. I knew that my sexual acting out was related to my drinking and drugging. After nine successful months with this plan, I decided to change it to allow sex under certain conditions and have been in a monogamous relationship for four months.

Recovery Plan Six

After staying sober on a loose sex plan (I could do anything so long as I didn’t do it compulsively), I entered a relationship with another member and have since worked this plan:

  • No sex except with my partner.
  • No masturbation.

When I discovered that many personality problems were inhibiting me sexually, I added a number of new things to my plan. Some examples:

  • Watch out for expectations and demands that are bound to be disappointing. Try to distinguish the desire for affection from the desire for sex.
  • Pray for the grace to learn to trust: myself, other people, my partner, the relationship, God.

(Extract from “SCA – A Program of Recovery” © SCA-ISO)