Overeaters Anonymous offers us a Program of Recovery.

What exactly is a program of recover?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word program as “a plan of things that are done in order to achieve a specific result.” So looking at our definition, let’s define our goal.

In OA, our “specific result” is freedom from the bondage of food obsession.

“If you are an alcoholic {compulsive eater} who wants to get over it, you may already be asking- “What do I have to do?”
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 20

Going back to our definition, to get this result we must use “a plan of things that are done in order”.

“It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done.”
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 20
So, “a plan of things that are done in order” …or a program is outlined specifically

“Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1.  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than our­selves could restore us to sanity.

3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4.  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7.  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.  Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11.  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.

12.  Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 59

You may be asking yourself if OA is right for you. There are two questions you can answer that can help you decide if you are one of us, a real compulsive eater.

“If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.”
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 44

If I can positively identify to these qualifications, what is a spiritual experience which will conquer the illness?

“They ap­pear to be in the nature of huge emotional displace­ments and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.”
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 27

How does one achieve a spiritual experience sufficient to bring about recovery from compulsive eating? Recovered compulsive eaters who have been relieved of their obsession follow the program of action known as The 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous.

“Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be.
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 42

In OA we take The 12 Steps, a program of action, in order, to completion, and we continue practicing these principles one day at a time. Simple but not easy. During this process of change, OA members benefit from the support our fellowship provides. OA members support each other in fellowship while we undergo our change or spiritual awakening by take The 12 Steps.

“The feeling of having shared in a com­mon peril is one element in the powerful cement, which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.

The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.”
~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 17

How does the fellowship of OA support us while The 12 Steps change us?

As with any new journey, we will need direction. Through his or her own experience, strength and hope, a sponsor can be the light that shines the way on our own path of recovery.

A sponsor is experienced, as they have taken all 12 Steps themselves. Together, we identify our own individual allergic ingredients, found in our binge foods as well as our destructive addictive behaviors. Once these are identified, we make a commitment to abstain from these while working The 12 Steps.

In OA “Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.”

The 9 Tools of Recovery help us achieve abstinence while we prepare to work the steps.

The 9 Tools of Recovery

A Plan of Eating






Action Plan



Useful resources for achieving abstinence, available at meetings or on

  • The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, chapters entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion” and “More About Alcoholism
  • The OA pamphlets contained in a Beginners Packet:
    • A Commitment to Abstinence
    • Before You Take That First Compulsive Bite
    • Dignity of Choice
    • A Plan of Eating: A Tool for Living

    “If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking—“What do I have to do?’’

    It is the purpose of this book to answer such ques­tions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done.”
    ~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 20

    “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps. At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

    Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power—that One is God. May you find Him now!

    Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery…”
    ~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 58

    “We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

    May God bless you and keep you—until then.”
    ~The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 164