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SAA Three Circles

Three Circles of Recovery

There are many resources available to help guide our journey on Recovery Road; few of them are as compelling—and for some of us as difficult—as the Three Circles. I have found no quick templates to walk you through this process, but here are some descriptions and ideas to help.

I’ve seen some ‘completed’ circles (are they ever complete?) that were generated on computers, but for most people, this is a pen-to-paper exercise. You might want to use a pencil because there will be changes.


The inner-circle represents those areas where our addiction manifests. For some, that may be pornography or objectification, and for others, it will be serial affairs and massage parlors.

The middle-circle represents those areas that, left unchecked, most often lead us into those areas of the inner circle where our addict takes over.  In my case, these included isolation, fantasy, and sexualizing everything. 

(Note: It helps me to think of this as a 'ring' around the middle-circle, otherwise,

I keep confusing this one with that circle in the middle that is called the inner circle;-)

The outer-circle represents those things in our lives that protect us or lead us away from addictive behaviors. For many people, this includes activities like exercise, and habits like meditation.

There are no right answers; everyone has to figure these things out for themselves, but preferably not alone. For me, these circles have been a continually changing target as I grow in the understanding of my addiction.

“Ultimately, our definition of sobriety is our own, but if we define our own program of recovery in isolation, our self-made programs may deceive us, becoming too loose or too restrictive.”

— Three Circles:

Defining Sexual Sobriety In SAA

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