Learning the Lingo

Last Updated on 5 January 2024

Many different terms are used during SLAA meetings.
While some terms are used a little differently in various SLAA groups,
we will attempt to define a few of these terms as commonly used in SLAA.
Um, what now?
SLAA Beginners Guide

Abstinence. A change in our behaviour that involves stopping the addictive pattern — one day, sometimes one minute, at a time. Abstinence is a beginning point in sobriety.

Acting Out. To engage in addictive behaviour. Engaging in a behaviour which is on one’s bottom line is often referred to as having a slip (more minor) or a bust (a more significant relapse into addiction).

Anorexia. The compulsive avoidance of giving or receiving social, sexual or emotional nourishment.

Bottom-Line Behaviours (or Inner-Circle). Generally, self-defined activities which we refrain from in order to experience our physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual wholeness. See: Top-Line.

Boundaries. Self-defined, self-protective limits we use for interaction with persons, places, things or activities.

Crosstalk. Sometimes known as “feedback.” To respond directly or indirectly to what someone has shared in a meeting; for example, to offer someone answers to their problems or to engage in dialogue during a meeting. Most meetings ban crosstalk to allow each member the space they need to share without interruption.

ESH – Experience, Strength and Hope.

Group Conscience (GC). A process of decision-making by the group. SLAA encourages all members to express their views. Sometimes called a BM – Business Meeting.

HOW – Honest, Open-Minded and Willing

Inventory or “Moral” Inventory. A list of qualities within a person, both positive and negative, discovered through self-examination. Also, to take someone else’s inventory: to judge another person’s life or sobriety.

Isolation. To withdraw from the help and healing process of others, program support or our Higher Power. Isolation often leads to or accompanies a slip. Isolation may also be a form of acting out for anorectic members.

Middle Circle, Middle-Line or Accessory Behaviours are those that do not break specific bottom lines but are more likely to lead down the pathway to addictive acting out, rather than recovery. Always be attentive and curious whenever you notice middle circle behaviour: call someone and engage in top-line behaviours to break the cycle of addiction. See: Acting Out (above).

Outreach [OR] Call. This is an opportunity to share with another member over the phone. Get phone numbers when you attend a meeting and send someone a message introducing yourself and asking if they are available for a chat. When they tell you what time works, then call and each person is able to share for a few minutes about what is happening right now. The other person may offer feedback and then share them self. Feedback is always optional and shouldn’t be offered unless it is requested. Check the guide on Outreach calls.

Sometimes people might message about 3/3 or 5+5 Outreach (or OR) – eg “3&3 OR Anyone?” – which is short-hand for asking about a call where each person shares for 3 (or 5) minutes each. Usually there is still the possibility to offer feedback if desired.

OSM – Older Sober Member.

Qualifier. The person who qualified you or helped you to know that you belonged in the fellowship of the SLAA program.

SLAA Member. Any SLAA participant who has a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction.

Sobriety. Initially, a state of abstinence from addictive bottom-line behaviours; often accompanied by the return of sanity, choice and personal dignity that comes from abstaining from bottom-line behaviours.

Sobriety Date. Generally, the date we stop engaging in our bottom-line behaviours.

Sponsor. A person who works closely with another member to provide individual support and guidance in applying the SLAA Twelve Step / Twelve Tradition program. A sponsor should be a person we are not in danger of acting out with nor are likely to find intrigue with.

Top-Lines (or Outer Circle) behaviours are those that are positive and life-affirming. It is good to develop a broad range of activities that we can engage in quickly when required as well as part of a broader healthy lifestyle. Top-lines help us move from our addictive heads back into our bodies.

Trigger. A person, place, thing or environment that sets off an urge to act out.

Withdrawal. The physical, mental, emotional and often spiritual upheaval which generally accompanies a break in our addictive pattern.

13th-Stepping. Manipulating another person in recovery, especially a newcomer, into a sexual, emotional or romantic relationship.

What Kinds of SLAA Meetings Are There?

There are many meeting formats in SLAA. Each meeting’s format is decided by group conscience and is subject to change by that group. Here are some common meeting formats. Several of these formats may be combined in any meeting.

Speaker Meeting. One or more members of SLAA share experience, strength and hope by telling their “stories.” Each speaker’s story provides an opportunity to reflect on our own history, feeling and challenges.

Topic Discussion Meeting. A specific recovery topic is suggested by the members or taken from SLAA literature. When this type of meeting is combined with a Speaker format, members may also be invited to share how they relate to the speaker’s story.

Step Meeting. The group focuses on one of the Twelve Steps, often reading out of the SLAA Basic Text, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. The group might also have one person speak on the Step. The meeting is then open for other members to share on that Step.

Getting Current Meeting. Members are encouraged to briefly share with the group the recent or ongoing emotional, physical and spiritual challenges to their sobriety or to ask for help if they are in danger of acting out. Sometimes an entire meeting is devoted to getting current.

Newcomer Meeting. The meeting addresses specific concerns of newcomers to SLAA or beginners on the road to recovery. Topics often revolve around the first three Steps, sponsorship, bottom lines, abstinence or withdrawal.

Quick Share Meetings. These are focussed on allowing as many people as possible to share. There is usually little reading to allow more time for sharing.

Meditation Meeting. These meetings usually begin with a period of silent meditation to allow members time and space to disconnect from the stress of the day and connect with their own higher power.

Other types of SLAA meetings also exist. If you have questions about a meeting, ask local members about it.

Open or Closed Meeting?

SLAA members highly value our traditions of anonymity. Group conscience determines whether a meeting shall be “open” or “closed.” In general, the following guidelines are used:

Open Meeting. A meeting open to anyone who wants to find out more about recovery from sex and love addiction.

Closed Meeting. A meeting open only to those having a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction.

Scroll to Top