Abstinence and Recovery: Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living and working the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program on a daily basis.” – Abstinence & Recovery Policy revised at WSBC 2021 (Business Conference Policy Manual, 1988b [amended 2021]).

The Nine Tools of OA

The OA Tools of Recovery help us work the Steps and refrain from compulsive overeating. The nine Tools are: a plan of eating, sponsorship, meetings, telephone, writing, literature, an action plan, anonymity, and service.” For more information, read The Tools of Recovery pamphlet.

Plan of Eating: The definition of abstinence is the same for all members, but the details of a plan of eating for each member may differ depending on what compulsive food behaviors we engaged in while practicing our disease, whether overeating, under-eating, and/or purging. A plan of eating is a Tool to help OA members maintain abstinence, i.e. the act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. There are as many “plans of eating” in OA as there are members, and a plan may change over time for each member. 

Sponsorship: Sponsorship is one of the keys to the success of this program. Sponsors are OA members committed to abstinence and to living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They share their program up to the level of their experience, and they strengthen their recovery through this service to others. A sponsor will help us through this Twelve Step program of recovery physically, emotionally and spiritually. They help you understand each step and how to work the program in the best way for you. Sponsors go beyond being a supportive friend; they are truly a gift to the program. To find a sponsor, look for someone who has what you want and ask how he or she is achieving it.

Meetings: It is critical to our recovery to meet with our fellows, to listen and to share. Together, we have learned, we get better.  Meetings are a wonderful opportunity to identify our common problem and confirm our common solution through the Twelve Steps. As we learn more about these tools, and how to work the steps, we are able to share the gifts that we receive with others.

OA offers a wide array of meetings to choose from with a variety of special topics and focuses.

OA offers an array of meetings, face-to-face, telephone and virtual, on a wide variety of topics. There are over 6,500 face-to-face and virtual meetings worldwide, many of which are offered in languages other than English. Using the online search tool, it should be easy to find a meeting that works for you and for your schedule. 

Telephone: In between meetings, it is imperative that we reach out to one another for support for ourselves and to offer help to others. It is common for many of our members to call, text, or email their sponsors and other OA members daily. Telephone, texting, emails or other forms of electronic contact provide an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.

It is imperative that we reach out to one another for support

Writing: Writing, or journaling, helps us navigate our recovery. As we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly, to understand our own behavior and better determine any necessary action. Writing can reveal solution that might not come to us by simply thinking or talking about them.

Literature: OA has an excellent selection of books and pamphlets that help us understand how to “work the steps” and give us examples of what life in recovery looks like. Only OA-approved literature is displayed at meetings. Many OA members find that reading our literature on a daily basis further reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps. {OA Book Store: https://bookstore.oa.org}

Books help us understand how to “work the steps”

Action Plan: An Action Plan helps us integrate all the other OA Tools. Like our Plan of Eating, it is a process that is unique to each of us, that serves to identify and implement attainable actions that are necessary to support our individual abstinence. As it brings structure, balance and manageability into our lives, it helps us work our program consistently.

Anonymity: Anonymity gives OA members freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip. It is a guarantee, that we will place principles before personalities and assures us that only we have the right to make our membership known within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. OA has no stars. This tool assures us that we are one among many. 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.

Anonymity gives OA members freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip.

Service: Any service in OA, no matter how small, helps reach a fellow sufferer while adding to the quality of our recovery. Members can give service by getting to meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature, and talking to newcomers. Beyond the group level, a member can serve as an intergroup representative, committee chair, region representative, or Conference delegate.

The OA Responsibility Pledge: Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.

OA Membership: According to the Traditions, bylaws, and policies, the only requirement for OA membership is the desire to stop eating compulsively.

Open or Closed Meeting: An “Open Meeting” means that the meeting is open to OA members and non-OA visitors. Friends, family members and medical practitioners are welcomed to attend also. All meetings are considered open unless otherwise indicated. “Closed Meetings” invite only those who desire to stop eating compulsively to attend. This includes newcomers, OA members and others who think they have a problem with food.

Special Focus Meeting: Composed of individuals who feel they can more readily identify with fellow OAers with similar attributes. A few examples of this might included: Men or Women’s Meetings, 100-pounders Meetings, and LGBTQ+ Meetings.

Special Topic Meeting: Meetings which have chosen a specific topic or format, such as a literature meeting, or a spiritual meeting.

Service Body: A service body is any entity that provides services beyond the group level, such as: Intergroups[IG], Service Boards, Regions.

Intergroup  (IG) = An intergroup shall be a duly registered service body. A land-based intergroup is composed primarily of groups within its region, or groups within its geographical proximity. A virtual intergroup is composed primarily of virtual groups. (Refer to OA Inc., Bylaws, Subpart B, Article VI, Sections 1 and 2a.)

Service Boards: The body that provides services to the local area groups and/or intergroups within one country or language area outside the USA and Canada. (Refer to OA Inc., Bylaws, Subpart B, Article VIII, Section 1.)

  • Language Service Board (LSB): The service body that provides services to a specific language regardless of geographic proximity.  Both groups and intergroups may affiliate with a LSB. (Refer to OA Inc., Bylaws, Subpart B, Article VIII, Section 2b.)
  • National Service Board (NSB): The service body that provides services to the groups and/or intergroups within one country outside the USA and Canada. In some cases a NSB may serve more than one country. (Refer to OA Inc., Bylaws, Subpart B, Article VIII, Section 2a.)

Region: One of 10 geographic areas and the virtual community specifically defined in the bylaws. (Refer to OA Inc., Bylaws, Subpart B, Article VII, Section 1.) 

Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

The OA Promise: I put my hand in yours, and together we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours, and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.

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