How it Works
The Twelve Steps are the heart of the OA recovery program. They offer a new way of life that enables the compulsive overeater to live without the need for excess food.
The ideas expressed in the Twelve Steps, which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous, reflect practical experience and application of spiritual insights recorded by thinkers throughout the ages. Their greatest importance lies in the fact that they work! They enable compulsive overeaters and millions of other Twelve-Steppers to lead happy, productive lives. They represent the foundation upon which OA is built.
The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous
We admitted we were powerless over food – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Permission to use the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.
The Twelve Traditions are the means by which OA remains unified in a common cause. These Twelve Traditions are to the groups what the Twelve Steps are to the individual. They are suggested principles to ensure the survival and growth of the many groups that compose Overeaters Anonymous.
Like the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions have their origins in Alcoholics Anonymous. These Traditions describe attitudes which those early members believed were important to group survival.
The Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.
Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers.
An OA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Every OA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
OA, as such, ought never be organised; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the OA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Permission to use the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.
Tools of recovery
In Overeaters Anonymous (OA), abstinence is ‘the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviours.’ Many of us have found that we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA’s nine tools of recovery.
A Plan of Eating
As a tool, a plan of eating helps us to abstain from eating compulsively. Having a personal plan of eating guides us in our dietary decisions, as well as defines what, when, how, where and why we eat. It is our experience that sharing this plan with a sponsor or another OA member is important.
There are no specific requirements for a plan of eating; OA does not endorse or recommend any specific plan of eating, nor does it exclude the personal use of one. (See the pamphlets Dignity of Choice and A Plan of Eating for more information). For specific dietary or nutritional guidance, OA suggests consulting a qualified health care professional, such as a physician or dietician. Each of us develops a personal plan of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her own past experience; we also have come to identify our current individual needs, as well as those things which we should avoid.
Although individual plans of eating are as varied as our members, most OA members agree that some plan – no matter how flexible or structured – is necessary.
This tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our disease and helps us achieve physical recovery. From this vantage point, we can more effectively follow OA’s Twelve-Step program of recovery and move beyond the food to a happier, healthier and more spiritual living experience
Sponsors are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They are willing to share their recovery with other members of the Fellowship and are committed to abstinence.
We ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery on all three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. By working with other members of OA and sharing their experience, strength and hope, sponsors continually renew and reaffirm their own recovery. Sponsors share their program up to the level of their own experience.
Ours is a program of attraction: find a sponsor who has what you want, and ask that person how he or she is achieving it. A member may work with more than one sponsor and may change sponsors at will.
Meetings are gatherings of two or more compulsive overeaters who come together to share their personal experience, and the strength and hope OA has given them. Though there are many types of meetings, fellowship with other compulsive overeaters is the basis of them all. Meetings give us an opportunity to identify and confirm our common problem and to share the gifts we receive through this program
The telephone helps us share one-to-one and avoid the isolation which is so common among us. Many members call other OA members and their own sponsors daily. As a part of the surrender process, it is a tool with which we learn to reach out, ask for help and extend help to others. The telephone also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.
In addition to writing our inventories and the list of people we have harmed, most of us have found that writing has been an indispensable tool for working the Steps. Further, putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper, or describing a troubling incident, helps us to better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often not revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them. In the past, compulsive eating was our most common reaction to life. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly and perhaps better discern any necessary action.
We study and read OA-approved pamphlets; OA-approved books, such as Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous and For Today; and we read Lifeline, our monthly magazine on recovery. We also study the book Alcoholics Anonymous, referred to as the ‘Big Book,’ to understand and reinforce our program. Many OA members find that when read daily, the literature further reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps. Our OA literature
and the AA ‘Big Book’ are ever-available tools which provide insight into our problem of eating compulsively, strength to deal with it, and the very real hope that there
is a solution for us.
Anonymity, referred to in Traditions Eleven and Twelve, is a tool that guarantees that we will place principles before personalities. The protection anonymity provides offers each of us freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip. Anonymity assures us that only we, as individual OA members, have the right to make our membership known within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films and television means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. This protects both the individual and the Fellowship.
Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be held in respect and confidence. What we hear at meetings should remain there. However, anonymity must not be used to limit our effectiveness within the Fellowship. It is not a break of anonymity to use our full names within our group or OA service bodies. Also, it is not a break of anonymity to enlist Twelfth-Step help for group members in trouble, provided we refrain from discussing specific personal information.
Another aspect of anonymity is that we are all equal in the Fellowship, whether we are newcomers or seasoned long-timers. And our outside status makes no difference in OA; we have no stars or VIPs. We come together simply as compulsive overeaters.
In keeping with OA’s tradition of anonymity no OA members are pictured on this site.
Carrying the message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers is the basic purpose of our Fellowship; therefore, it is the most fundamental form of service. Any form of service-no matter how small-which helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Getting to meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature, talking to newcomers, doing whatever needs to be done in a group or for OA as a whole are ways in which we give back what we have so generously been given. We are encouraged to do what we can when we can. ‘A life of sane and happy usefulness’ is what we are promised as the result of working the Twelve Steps. Service helps to fulfill that promise.
The delegates at OA’s World Service Business Conference 2010 adopted a motion that created a ninth tool called “Action Plan.” The Conference Literature Committee is working on a definition that will be presented for adoption to WSBC 2011. Until that time, OA members are free to interpret “Action Plan” as they wish.
As OA’s responsibility pledge states: ‘Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.’
Tools of Recovery © 1996 Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved
A group consists of two or more people. Each group practices the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. No member of a group is required to practice any actions to remain an OA member or to have a voice at a meeting. Any new groups who wish to carry the OA name must register the meeting online at the World Service Office website.
Two or more groups can form an intergroup (IG). The intergroup provides services to existing groups within its geographical area and spreads the OA message of recovery to those who still suffer. Melbourne Intergroup, including Regional Victoria and Tasmania meets on the second Saturday of the month (except January) from 8.00am to 10.00am virtually via Zoom.
OA has 10 regions worldwide that maintain direct communication with groups and intergroups. Regions sponsor local conventions and assemblies. Regional assemblies also nominate trustee candidates to serve on OA’s Board of Trustees (BOT), whose members are elected at the World Service Business Conference (WSBC). Australia is considered to be in Region 10, along with New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, South East Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
OA World Service Office (WSO)
The World Service Office, located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico USA, works to provide quality support and services to the OA Fellowship. These services include: worldwide OA meeting directories, a print and online magazine and quarterly newsletter, a website, public information activities, World Service Conferences and Conventions, and more than 150 literature and recovery-related items. Click here to visit the WSO website.