The “S.A.F.E.” Formula is an easy way to define addiction. If the following elements are present, then the person’s sexual problems could be called an addiction:
- Secret; It is a secret. Anything that cannot pass public scrutiny will create the shame of a double life.
- Abusive; It is abusive to self or others. Anything that is exploitive or harmful to others or degrades oneself will activate the addictive system.
- Feelings; It is used to avoid or is a source of painful feelings. If sexuality is used to alter moods or results in painful mood shifts it is clearly part of the addictive process.
- Empty; It is empty of a caring committed relationship.
Fundamental to the whole concept of addiction and recovery is the healthy dimension of human relationships. The addict runs a great risk by being sexual outside a committed relationship.