Dear Rabbi Twerski,
When we first spoke, the Rav suggested SLAA for Internet addiction. Since the Rav’s experience is mainly with alcohol rehab, it could be that the Rav does not (or did not at that time) understand the differences between SLAA and SA. I would like to know if the Rav agrees today that we should only be encouraging people to join SA and not SLAA on GuardYourEyes.com. Here is what someone with some experience wrote to us on the subject:
Here is what I can tell you as an addict who has attended SA meetings and has both heard from others and read about SLAA meetings.
1. Very few women, if any at all, attend SA meetings. This is because SA defines addiction as addiction to lust, whereas SLAA defines addiction to relationships and behaviors. Women tend naturally to view everything within the spectrum of relationships, and so as a rule they all go to SLAA, where the focus is on the relationships. Additionally, the men in SA are usually traditional, and female immorality has more of a stigma attached to it than male immorality, which makes women feel uncomfortable in SA.
2. SLAA is very liberal in that it sees alternative and extramarital relationships as consistent with sobriety; for that matter, sobriety within SLAA is whatever you decide it to be. By nature, this is more attractive to liberal and non-religious people.
3. SA is very conservative compared with SLAA. Marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman, sobriety means no extramarital relations (including with oneself), progressive victory over lust means overcoming lustful activity such as viewing images, and addiction is to lust not relationships or behaviors. The nature of SA is such that it tends to attract conservative, traditional, and religious men.
For the above reasons, it is self-evident that frum Yidden would and should want to overwhelmingly choose SA over SLAA. This is advice that has amazingly been glaringly omitted from this site, and many pixels have been devoted to potential problems that it is claimed could occur at group meetings that would not occur at SA meetings due to the unlikelihood of female attendance and the very traditional nature of the groups. However, be aware that SLAA has a very high profile among psychologists because of the psychological element of the focus on addiction to relationships and because, as a rule, psychologists are very liberal. For this reason, the profession is far more aware of SLAA than of SA.
Still, my therapist told me in no uncertain terms to keep well away from SLAA. His unspoken advice was shomer nafsho yirchak meihem.
Rabbi Twerski Responds
Thank you for informing me. Based on this information, I would say that SA is appropriate.