If you’re in AA you’re sober when you abstain from all alcohol. Same for NA. Sober means abstinence from all drugs, including alcohol. “Alcohol is a drug. A drug is a drug is a drug.” With sex addiction it’s a little different. Most people don’t want to stop having sex altogether. And whether you’re having sex or not having sex you can’t escape the fact that you are a human being. Your sexuality is an integral part of who you are.
So with sex addiction sobriety is a matter of deciding what is healthy and what isn’t. It’ gets tricky since the exact same sexual act can be sober or not sober depending on the circumstances and your mental state. That’s a whole post in and of itself though.
In 12-step s-recovery there are five different fellowships, each of which have a slightly different approach to sobriety.
In SA sobriety is no masturbation and no sex outside of a heterosexual married relationship. The focus is on progressive victory over lust.
SRA was formed by people who believe that people in mutually committed relationships can have sober sex. That includes heterosexuals who aren’t legally married and homosexuals who aren’t legally married. The focus is on spirituality and self-love as an antidote for sex addiction.
In SAA, members define their own sobriety, preferably with help from a sponsor and a group. Sobriety is when you abstain from those behaviors you’ve determined to be compulsive and/or self-destructive. The focus is on positive sexual health, which does not include sexual anorexia although it may include celibacy.
In SCA sobriety is adherence to your individual Sexual Recovery Plan, which is a statement of intent about your sexual behaviors. Sobriety is when you abstain from the things you intend to stop doing.
In SLAA sobriety is when members abstain from what they’ve defined as addictive behaviors. There is an added focus on love and relationship addiction in addition to sex addiction.
Needless to say, this is confusing for newcomers. But the bottom line is that while one may be a better fit than another, each one of these programs will work.