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Reading recovery literature or attending your first meetings can make you feel like an outsider who doesn't speak the 'language'. Here, we help you decipher commonly used terms.

Abstinence: the cessation of all use of addictive agents. Abstinence from lustful sexuality, many believe, is the only treatment for the disease of sex addiction.

Acceptance: internal alignment with external reality as opposed to self-will, “It is what it is.”

Acting In: like acting out, acting in is a way to dissociate from unbearable internal feelings, a defense mechanism. Prior to acting out sexually, the sex addict goes through a period of mental preoccupation or obsession (usually fantasy, intrigue or the trance state/erotic haze). This mental process (rumination/obsession) obliterates the underlying discomfort of shame, fear, depression, humiliation, hopelessness, rejection and/or anxiety for instance. The sex addict begins to dissociate (moves away from his or her feelings). An internal (within the self) separation begins to take place between his or her mind and his or her emotional self, the nascent uncomfortable feelings are displaced by the acting in ruminations. Usually acting in is engaging in fantasy, intrigue, the dissociative sex addiction trance/erotic haze. Also refers to the purge portion of sexual binging and purging in which the addict is actively fending off sexual thoughts which we refer to as Withholding.

Acting Out: the outward actions of compulsive sexual behavior, i.e., porn usage, ritualizing, affairs, seductions, intrigues (that involve others), cybersex, use of massage parlors and prostitutes. Acting out is a way to transmute unbearable feelings, (shame, fear, depression, humiliation, hopelessness, rejection and/or anxiety for instance) into outward actions.

Adaptation: the ability to adapt your attitude and behavior in response to changed circumstances.

Addiction/Sex Addiction: The repeated use of an agent for rewards that a person cannot or will not stop despite negative consequences. All addictions are an attempt to flee from uncomfortable internal states which is the primary reward. (see acting in, acting out and withholding) The addict develops a host of strategies to justify such use and assure future supply. All addictions are considered progressive and chronic. A sex addict’s primary relationship is with the addiction, primary over any human relationship. Sex addiction can take many forms, including but not limited to, a compulsive need for sex and/or masturbation, extreme dependency on sexual activity (with one person or many), and/or a chronic preoccupation with pornography, sexual liaisons, romance, intrigue, objectification and fantasy. Sex and love addiction may also take the form of sexual anorexia while including other acting in/acting out and withholding behaviors.
Part of what makes sex addiction/compulsion so powerful is that it can create three distinct types of “highs” all at the same time. Some mood-altering drugs operate by intensifying brain chemistry (speed or cocaine), some by sedating (alcohol or opiates), and some by providing altered perceptions/fantasy (hallucinogenics or marijuana). The intense feedback loop of sex addiction is capable of simultaneously stimulating, calming and dissociating the addict. Chemically, the brain of an active sex addict has almost the identical dopamine, neurepinephrine, testosterone, adrenaline, oxytocin to that of drug addiction. And since such a high is only a thought away it's no wonder that it can be so reinforcing—even in the face of profound negative consequences.

Agent: any object, process or behavior used by the addict. In sex addiction: compulsive sex and/or masturbation, extreme dependency on one person (or many), and/or a chronic preoccupation with pornography, sexual liaisons, romance, seduction, intrigue, objectification and fantasy.

Agent Substitution: attempting to manage craving for primary agent with use of a new agent. For instance, overeating while attempting to abstain from porn.

Alexithymia: the inability to identify and express one’s own feelings and experiences. All addiction is an attempt to avoid painful feelings. If the addict cannot language his underlying feelings, he will continue to act them out unconscously vis-a-vis active addiction. If a PoSA cannot language her feelings, she will not have firm grounds with which to set healthy boundaries.

Amends: acts of expressed remorse and restitution performed by recovering people for the harms they have inflicted on others. Amends are different than the apologies addicts have given time and time again. Amends are words and actions that demonstrate that the addict’s behavior damaged another and the appropriate action was taken to remedy the damage. If money was stolen or borrowed it is repaid with an appropriate expression of remorse. A sex addict might write his wife a love letter every week for the rest of her life for his infidelities. The making of amends is reached relatively late in recovery as an emapthy-developing exercise.

Anonymity: Is the tradition within 12-Step programs to not acknowledge or link one’s identity (such as full name or photograph) as a SA/S-Anon program member, for instance, at the level of “press, radio, and films”(extrapolated to television and internet) or the information shared in any meeting. This tradition allows program members to speak as members in a number of venues about their recovery experiences. It is best exemplified by the slogan: What you hear here and who you see hear, let it stay here.

The Beast (a.k.a. the Lust Monster): a personification of the addiction/compulsion, the self-talk and rituals that feed that compulsion. Externalizing the persona of the Beast provides a mechanism of control over such self-talk and rituals.

Bottom-Line Behavior: SLAA members’ self-defined behaviors that constitute loss of sobriety. A common basic bottom line is to avoid sex outside of a committed relationship. Members may also include on their bottom-line going to a particular place, contacting a particular person, watching a certain kind of movie or program, avoiding pornography, dressing provocatively, cruising for partners or even allowing oneself to drift off into all-consuming fantasy—in short avoiding anything that causes them to plunge back into their addiction. The participation of a sober sponsor is essential in establishing a bottom-line.

Character Defects (Shortcomings): those “emotional deformities” that have harmed recovering persons and those close to them. These include pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, self-centeredness, self pity, intolerance, jealousy, and resentment. They include obsessions with things other than sex such as: power, money, and recognition.

Character Reconstruction: the process of bringing one’s character into congruence with one’s values underscoring that recovery entails more than the removal of agents in an otherwise unchanged life. The transformation of the whole person—creating a character and a lifestyle in which agents have no place is the aim of recovery.

Chips: in SLAA, the white desire chip, also known as the one-day chip, is a token symbolizing a member's desire to quit living out a pattern of sex addiction. Carrying the chip is a concrete reminder of the member’s commitment to sobriety. For members who have suffered relapse, taking a one-day chip may represent a renewed commitment to recovery. Chips are also awarded for other periods of time; one week, one month, two months, three months, six months, nine months, one year and multiple years.

Choice: refers to the role of volition, of conscious agency, and human will in addiction recovery.

Co-Addict: derogatory term for the partner/spouse of a sex addict still standard (but not required) in the CoSA organization. Now disfavored by many in favor of codependent or trauma survivor. We at PoSARC prefer to call ourselves PoSAs (Partners of Sex Addicts) and self-describe ourselves as trauma survivors rather than co-addicts or co-dependents.

Codependent: awkward term for partner/spouse/family member of an addict. Behaviors can include denial, low self-esteem, inappropriate compliance, people-pleasing, minimizing problems, self-sacrificing. Most partners/spouses of a sex addict are more accurately described as trauma survivors.

Cognitive Reappraisal: a realistic assessment of the consequences of continued use and the possibilities of ceasing such use. Such reappraisal is a critical precursor to recovery.

Commitment: a (usually public) declaration of one’s recovery goal. Such declarations mark a shift from the contemplation and preparation stages of change to the action.

Compulsion: an irresistible, repeated, irrational impulse to perform some act.

CoSA: a 12-Step recovery program for those whose lives have been affected by another person’s compulsive sexual behavior.

Crosstalk: the use of direct responses (feedback, suggestions) to disclosures within a 12-Step recovery meeting. While most Twelve Step groups discourage crosstalk, some non-12 Step groups sometimes invite crosstalk.

Denial: the process by which people with addictions pretend (to themselves and/or to other people) that they do not have an addiction, when in fact they do, or that their addictive behavior is not problematic, when in fact it is. Denial may happen consciously, for example, when the person lies to cover up, or it may happen unconsciously, for example, when they genuinely believe that they do not have a problem. Denial may be partially conscious, for example, when someone admits that they use online pornography, but deny that it causes them problems, when, in fact, many of the problems they experience are consequences of their porn use.

PoSARC Crash Course in the Concept of Denial:

Denial comes in the following variations. Each variety of denial can be used alone or in combination with other forms of denial and/or other defense mechanisms:
Denial of fact(s): refutation of the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether by deception (by commission or omission) or false agreement.
Denial of responsibility: various means of shifting responsibility away from the self, including:
Blaming: Redirecting culpablity and may employ denial of facts.
Minimization: admission of the fact but deny its seriousness or effects
Justification: reality distortion to make an action appear more acceptable
Denial of impact: avoidance of knowing and/or feeling the effects (and therefore the harms) resultant from their actions/decisions.
Denial of awareness: use of claims of altered awarenesses (intoxication, etc.) to preclude the possibility that the consequences are causally related to their behaviors.
Denial of Denial: personality-wide thoughts and actions that bolster self-confidence and assure that nothing needs to be changed. A form of self-delusion.
Denial of cycle: claiming luck or happenstance instead of linking the negative consequences to their own behaviors.
DARVO: (victim blaming): Deny the abuse, Attack the victim, claiming victimization, and thereby Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.
Projection: admission of both the fact and seriousness accompanied by a redirection of the source of the offense onto another (both “the pot calling the kettle black” and straight out blaming).

Erotic Haze/Trance State: a dissociative bubble of euphoric, fantasized experience usually brought about by the addict’s ritualization, the addict is emotionally disconnected and is pre-occupied with acting out behaviors. Reality becomes blocked out/distorted. At this point all other persons (or representations of persons) are merely objects/body parts to satisfy the desires of the addict.

Empowerment: the experience of having some power and control over one’s own destiny. Within the recovery context, there are two quite different relationships to power.
Because in addiction-riddled relationships, the power lies with the addict, it is important for PoSAs to grasp the notion of empowerment as it applies to both self and relationships.
Among the culturally empowered (those to whom value is ascribed as a birthright), addiction-related erosion of competence is often countered by increased grandiosity and preoccupation with power and control. It should not be surprising then that transformative breakthrough of recovery is marked by a deep experience of surrender and an acceptance of powerlessness.
In contrast, the culturally disempowered (those for whom this value has been systematically withheld) are often attracted to psychoactive drugs in their quest for power, only to discover over time that their power has been further diminished. Under these conditions, the initiation of recovery is often marked by the assumption of power and control rather than an abdication or surrender of such power. This point is well illustrated in Rev. Cecil Williams’ words, “a black person hears the call to powerlessness as one more command to lie down and take it.” Similar sentiments can be found in native adaptations of Step Two: “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could help us regain control.”
Empowerment is inspiring, horizon-raising, energizing, and galvanizing. The concept of empowerment applies to communities as well as individuals. It posits that the only solution to the problem of addiction in disempowered communities lies within those very communities. Empowerment occurs, in part, when people impacted by addiction cast aside their victimhood and become active players in the healing of themselves, their families and their communities.

Enabling: any act that, whether conscious or unconscious done with the intention of helping the addict, inadvertently results in harm to the addict and the enabler. It is thought that actions that protect the person not yet in recovery from the consequences of his or her use actually increase the likelihood of continued addiction. Ignoring the clear signs that compulsive porn use has occurred is a form of enabling.

Euphoric Recall: Euphoric recall is becoming lost in remembrance of past addictive behavior, recalling that behavior as ecstatic rather than insane. In euphoric recall there is a total failure to recollect the massively negative consequences of that behavior. Euphoric recall is one of the first steps on the road to acting out and loss of sobriety. Euphoric recall has no place in recovery meeting sharing.

Family Illness: concept in which all members of the family and the family unit as a whole are considered wounded by the addiction of one of its members.

Fantasy: the act of imagining scenarios that fulfill an idealized wish unrelated to reality.

Gratitude: the source of humility for recovering addicts.

High Bottom Recovery: the initiation of recovery through a breakthrough of awareness of what one could lose through continued active sex addiction—the legal, social or economic consequences of addiction and committing to begin recovery before those consequences actually occur.

Higher Power: the personification of a positive power “greater than ourselves” that can restore sobriety and sanity to the addicted. Referred to as “God as we understood God.” Twelve-Step members frequently utilize the group, or an inspiring person they have known as a substitute for God if they cannot relate to "God as we understood God".

Hitting Bottom: the addiction-related experience of complete anguish and despair as a result of active addiction. Studies have long affirmed the role of this “hitting bottom” experience in precipitating the initiation of recovery.

Interpersonal Relational Trauma: IRT is the exploitation of one person by another in a marital/primary relationship through abuse, betrayal, addiction/compulsion, deception, violence, rape, abandonment or neglect that affects the victim traumatically. There are many kinds of trauma a person can experience, yet, IRT is about marriages or primary adult/adult relationships. Addiction/compulsivity is a relational betrayal because the addict/compulsive's primary loyalty is to obtaining his addictive substance/process and his primary relationship is with his addiction/compulsion.

Intervention: the pre-planned, organized confrontation facilitated by a addiction interventionist—eliciting crisis in the life of a person experiencing addiction by conveying the consequences of his or her behavior on family, friends and co-workers. Sadly, there are only a few such interventionists trained to confront the sex addict.

Intrigue: engaging in thoughts or actions designed to manipulate a person or situation for sexual purposes. Such intrigue can be entirely contained in the thoughts of the addict without the object of the fantasy even knowing of the obsession.

Inventory: the process of auditing one’s assets and deficits of experience and character. These mechanisms serve to alleviate guilt and shame and facilitate the reconstruction of personal character.

Low Bottom Recovery: the initiation of recovery by individuals in the latest stages of addiction who have experienced great losses related to sex addiction. Low bottom recovery is associated with the experience of anguish and desperation—a choice between recovery on the one hand or insanity or, sometimes, suicide.

Lust: the primacy of sexual gratification over one’s integrity, relationships and humanity.

Maintenance Factors: activities and influences that serve to stabilize, consolidate and strengthen long term recovery from lust.

Metaphors of Transformation: personally and culturally meaningful words and ideas that serve to inspire and support recovery efforts. Such metaphors are highly variable within and between cultures and draw their power from personal/cultural fit rather than scientific validity.

Mirroring Rituals: are activities (sharing, listening, observing, laughing) that bring one into a deeper relationship with others. Part of a greater empathic connection with others.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): is a personality disorder defined by the DSM as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.” NPD is frequently co-morbid with sex addiction.
Addicts often display narcissistic traits, which often clear as sobriety is achieved. Others addicts exhibit the full personality disorder even after successful addiction treatment. We cannot stress enough how important is is for PoSAs to examine the possibility of NPD as a primary or co-morbid diagnosis for your SAC.

These eight signs of NPD are from Lisa E. Scott (www.vainencounters.com):

  1. Conspicuous display of kindness and goodness
  2. Upheaval in previous relationships
  3. Mysterious hatred from family members
  4. Damages the image of others
  5. Backwards reactions (reacts to a reality completely different than the actual circumstances, i.e., narcissistic shock tactics); explanation: http://www.lisaescott.com/2010/01/15/backwards-reactions-how-recognize-narcissist)
  6. Uses control and/or boundary violations to assure power primacy
  7. Self-absorbed
  8. Hostile when others receive attention

Objectification: the process of thinking about another person more as an object or collection of body parts to be used for self-gratification rather than as part of a relationship to be honored.

Obsession: recurrent thoughts outside of a person's control.

Paradox: apparently contradictory slogans within the 12-step recovery model that contain recovery instructions, i.e., To get it, you must give it away; When you think you’re looking good, you’re looking bad; You can find serenity when you stop looking for it.

PoSA: acronym we coined here at PoSARC, to stand for "Partners of Sex Addicts." This new term feels more accurate (and much less derogatory) to us than calling ourselves codependents or co-addicts.

Powerlessness: the acknowledgement of one’s inability to control the frequency and quantity of sex addiction and its consequences through an act of personal will.

Program: has become synonymous with 12-Step recovery.

PTSD: an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical or psychological harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include childhood abuse/neglect, violent assaults, rape, ongoing deception, lack of personal/relational safety, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, war or military combat.

Qualify: a term disclosing one’s position in relation to the addiction. Saying, “Hello, my name is Jane and I am a trauma survivor” is qualifying at a PoSA meeting.

Qualifier: the addict in your life that qualifies your membership to an Anon support group. For anonymity, many spouse/partners of sex addicts refer to their “qualifier” rather than use a name.

Recovered/Recovering: terms used to describe the process of resolving, or the status of having resolved, sex addiction.

Recovery: experience of a meaningful, productive life within the limits imposed by a history of sex addiction. Recovery is both the acceptance and transcendence of limitation.

Relapse: full engagement in active sex addiction after a period of sobriety, see Slip.

Relational Trauma: see Interpersonal Relational Trauma.

Responsibility: acceptance of accountability for past, present and future actions and consequences of those actions. Taking responsibility is the antidote for blaming, lying, covert activities, deceits and other defensive, active addiction strategies.

Restitution: the process of rectifying harms inflicted on individuals, see Amends.

Rewards: prior to recovery, the payoffs—real and imaginary—for engaging in sex addiction with no awareness of the negative consequences. Addiction's primary reward is the dissociation/distraction from uncomfortable internal feelings. Recovery has rewards/payoffs such as renewed self-respect, increased trust and intimacy in relationships—all things that provide awareness of the positive consequences.

Ritualization: a dissociative process that the addict predictably uses to distance his sexual obsession from reality. Rituals induce the trance state/erotic haze and further separate the addict from reality. Once the addict begins the ritual, the sex addiction cycle becomes almost impossible for the addict to stop of his own accord.

SA: Sexaholics Anonymous, a recovery organization for sex addicts and has a definition for sobriety.

SAA: Sex Addicts Anonymous, a recovery organization for sex addicts that uses a three circles approach to help members define sobriety.

SAC: acronym coined by us here at PoSARC to stand for: Sex Addict/Compulsive. Some of us are sure our partners are addicts, and some aren't sure but feel that "compulsive" is a better fit than "addict", so we chose "SAC" to cover the range and simplify ease of reading here.

S-Anon: recovery program for those whose lives have been affected by another person’s compulsive sexual behavior.

Scanning: SAC behavior of observing other people for sexual availability/attractiveness—ogling. May include fixating stares, head swiveling, scheming to get a better look/make an introduction, paying undue attention to sexual prey he considers attractive.

Serial Recovery: process through which individuals with multiple concurrent or sequential addictions approach recovery. Serial recovery refers to the process of sequentially shedding two or more addictions.

Sexual Anorexia: an addict’s fear of intimacy expressed as severe anxiety surrounding sexual contact with emotional content (i.e. in an intimate relationship) often in the guise of a loss of sexual appetite. This does not preclude the sexual acting out with those not in close emotional proximity.

Share/Sharing: serial monologues offered by members of recovery groups. There are often requirements that there be no crosstalk and that the person talk only about his/her self.

SLAA: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, a recovery organization for sex and love addicts that asks members to define/support sobriety with bottom-line and top-line behaviors.

Slip: a one-time/one-behavior lapse of sobriety as contrasted with a relapse which involves multiple behaviors or a full return to active addiction.

Slogans: shorthand method of communicating to oneself and others in recovery. They are phrases that have come to embody certain recovery principles, e.g., I did not Cause this, I cannot Control it and I Cannot Cure it, Easy Does It, Live and Let Live, First Things First.

Sobriety Date: the anniversary date of cessation of use. Such calculations are not always clear-cut. Families in recovery often speak of recovery date rather than sobriety date. A date is often difficult for families to pinpoint. Some family members place their recovery date at discovery or a crisis that led to their decision to get help.

Spheres of Recovery: life arenas through which the recovery process is expressed., e.g., physical recovery, family and relational recovery, social recovery, economic recovery, etc.

Spiritual (Spirituality): a heightened state of perception, awareness, awe or being that personally informs, heals, empowers, connects or liberates. In recovery, there is no dogma associated with spirituality. In recovery, spirituality is a connection with resources within and outside the self.

Spiritual Awakening: the progressive changes in character that recovering people experience as recovery progresses, a gradual awakening.

Spirituality of Imperfection: a recognition that all human beings are flawed by first recognizing one’s imperfections while deepening one’s compassion and extrapolating that to all others with an expanded empathy and compassion.

Sponsor/Sponsee: A sponsor is a more experienced person in the same recovery program that guides the sponsee through the recovery process via mentorship; working the steps, defining sobriety, holding the sponsee accountable etc.. There are both temporary sponsors and permanent sponsors. The concept of sponsorship occurred to the co-founder of A.A., Bill Wilson, when he noticed that he was able to stay sober when he helped other alcoholics stay sober. Sponsorship benefits the sponsor in a paradoxical way. Ideally, every program member is both a sponsor and a sponsee.

Sponsorship: the practice of mentorship/accountability between one recovering person and another in 12-Step groups.

Stage One Recovery: the process of breaking a primary addiction; the early years of reducing chaos, achieving stability, learning to accept help from others, and clearing out the wreckage of the past.

Stage Two Recovery: involves “rebuilding the life that was saved in Stage One.” Stage Two Recovery transcends the early concern with the addictive behavior and instead focuses on a reconstruction of personal character, identity, worldview and a reconstruction of personal relationships.

Story Telling: the process through which the recovering individual reconstructs their identity and shares their experience with others as acts of self-healing and service. Nearly all recovery stories—sacred and secular—follow a three-part sequence of the development of addiction (what it was like), the turn-around-experience (what happened), and an account of life in recovery (what it is like now).

Surrender: the cessation of self-will without internal and external effort, an almost cellular allowing of what is, reality. A deep trusting that dropping our self-will allows one's Higher Power to work toward our highest good. For a traditionally empowered population, surrender is the entry into the paradox of recovery. Some recovery programs for historically disempowered groups (women, African-Americans, Native Americans) often emphasize empowerment rather than surrender.

The Three C’s: I didn’t Cause it, I cannot Control it and I cannot Cure it. An Al-Anon slogan that has been the sanity and salvation of many sex addicts’ partner/spouses in early recovery. If you are new, memorize this and use it as a mantra. We promise it will make a difference.

Three Second Rule: one of the major devices used to assist recovering addicts in stopping the mental obsession portion of addiction. The three second rule advises that addicts release the thought(s) within three seconds—for instance: when someone attractive comes into view or a computer screen with suggestive material is seen, one allows oneself a maximum of three seconds to look before averting one's eyes and then allowing the memory to slip away.

Thirteenth-Stepping: a euphemism for sexual involvement between members of a recovery group.

Top-Line Behavior: desired behaviors to replace addictive behaviors.

Trance State/Erotic Haze: a bubble of euphoric fantasized experience usually brought about by the addict’s ritualization, the addict is emotionally disconnected and is pre-occupied with acting out behaviors. Reality becomes blocked out/distorted. At this point all other persons (or representations of persons) are merely objects/body parts to satisfy the desires of the addict.

Trauma Survivor: preferred term for partner/spouse of a sex addict often mislabeled as a codependent. Because the sex addict’s primary relationship is with the addiction, the partner/spouse is emotionally endangered by being in the relationship. This constitutes an endangerment, a trauma.
When the brain experiences a traumatic event (such as infidelity, repeatedly being lied to by a partner) the “doing” center of the brain, is activated into fight, flight or freeze mode. The “thinking center” assesses the danger and will tell the “doing” center to back down and resume normal activity.
However, after many traumatic incidents (complex trauma—a spouses’ active addiction is both abusive and traumatic to those closest to the addict) the “thinking” area of the brain assumes the person is always under attack, and will no longer stop the “doing” center from going into fight, flight or freeze mode, leaving the traumee in a perpetually heightened state of anxiety and hyper-vigilance. The traumee then develops strategies to survive the ongoing trauma that seem maladaptive/codependent to an outside observer. This is called going into “survival mode.”
To the traumee, these strategies feel like the only way to maintain safety. This is not about being codependent or addicted to a partner—it is about wanting to be safe, to survive.
While the trauma is occurring and the traumee is employing skills to maintain safety s/he may be unable to focus on skills and behaviors for daily living. Until the "doing" brain feels safe enough to allow the "thinking" brain a return to full functioning, the traumee will remain in survival mode.
What might be observed by outsiders as manipulative, codependent, or addictive behaviors are actually necessary skills to maintain safety. While trauma (violence, active addiction) is still occurring these survival skills will remain in place.
The antidote to this trauma is learning to reduce reactivity and practicing detachment—which require safe, healthy relationships with advocates/therapists who understand what is happening from a trauma-informed viewpoint.

Triggers/Triggering Mechanisms: persons, places or things that begin the active sex addiction cycle.

Twelve Steps: are reproduced in virtually all addiction literature and have been adapted from the original A.A. 12-Steps.

Two-Stepping: is a phrase used in recovery to refer to the process of going from Step One (problem acknowledgement—“We admitted we were powerless over sex addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable”) to Step Twelve (service to others—“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sex addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”) without bothering with any of the steps in between.

Use: in sex addiction, the acting in/acting out behaviors that qualify as active addiction.

Virtual Recovery: the achievement/maintenance of recovery through online support groups and with little or no recovery meetings.

Withholding: (Sexual Anorexia) An addict’s inability to have sexual relations within an emotionally committed/close relationship. Always fear-based, and very often hostile. We make the distinction between acting in and withholding because although both are defense mechanisms to avoid uncomfortable feelings, withholding usually has a degree of hostility in its refusal that is distinct from acting in.

Wounded Healers: people who, having survived a life-threatening and life-transforming illness/experience, help guide others through this same illness/experience.

White-knuckling: a recovery term meaning the addict is not using, but has not addressed the root problems that caused the addiction. Often precedes a relapse/slip.