"We all need to be loved and accepted, not because we are abstinent, not because we are at goal weight, but for who we are. This is especially true of OA members who are still suffering. They have been in program for some time, perhaps for months, maybe even years, but either they have not yet attained abstinence or they are in relapse. When asked what helped them most, people who have gone through this painful experience agree on one thing: being loved and accepted—even when they were compulsively overeating, even when they were falling apart emotionally, even when they themselves felt hopeless and unlovable—was the key to their eventually loving and accepting themselves and from there, getting abstinent.”
– from the OA pamphlet “Members in Relapse”
Relapse & recovery meetings
These are meetings with a special focus on relapse.
1st & 3rd Sundays, 10:45-11:45 AM
CPMC DAVIES HOSPITAL
45 Castro St @ Duboce St
Level B, Room B1
Wednesdays, 8-9 PM
CPMC DAVIES HOSPITAL
45 Castro St @ Duboce St
Level B, Room B1
12 Steps Within Committee
The Twelfth-Step-Within Committee was created to reach out to those in the Fellowship who still suffer and to address the relapse and recovery of our members.
Together We Can
“Relapse is one of the primary reasons some of us might be tempted to discontinue our recovery in OA. When we relapse, we may experience the same feelings we had when we first came to an OA meeting; these include shame, embarrassment, self-recrimination, failure, depression, isolation, frustration and even hopelessness. When relapse occurs, the most important action we as individuals and the group can take is to keep the lines of communication open.
If someone in the group relapses, we can keep in touch and encourage that member not to retreat into isolation. We can ask how others are doing, letting them know that we care and that their participating in the group is valued. Everyone’s attendance at meetings makes a difference in each member’s personal recovery and adds to the group as a whole. The courage that it takes to return even in the face of a setback will surely be an inspiration to those of us who may in the future face similar obstacles.
When a member does return after relapse, welcome her or him warmly; support and encouragement are especially crucial at this time. And most importantly, DON’T JUDGE THEM! When we judge fellow members, we are inviting them to leave.
Everyone is “good enough” to be in OA, no matter what. So don’t judge another’s recovery. Each person’s program is unique, just like each of us.
It is crucial that in our commitment to carry the message of recovery to other compulsive overeaters, we treat others the way we, ourselves, would want to be treated. Each one of us--with a smile, a hug, a phone call or a hand extended--can make a difference in our own well-being and that of our fellow members, keeping all of us coming back to an atmosphere of love, acceptance and support. Overeaters Anonymous does work when We Keep Coming Back.”
– From the OA pamphlet entitled “Together We Can”
Quotes to Recover By – From Our Literature
“So long as we think of ourselves as failures, we will fail. Because we have given in to the food compulsion does not mean we have failed. It means we have a disease and we are human.”
– Welcome Back (pamphlet), p. 1
“We all need to be loved and accepted, not because we are abstinent, not because we are at goal weight, but just for who we are. This is especially true of OA members who are still suffering. They have been in program for some time, perhaps for months, maybe even years, but either they have not yet attained abstinence or they are in relapse. When asked what helped them most, people who have gone through this painful experience agree on one thing: being loved and accepted – even when they were compulsively overeating, even when they were falling apart emotionally, even when they felt hopeless and unlovable – was the key to their eventually loving and accepting themselves and, from there, getting abstinent.”
– Members in Relapse (pamphlet), p. 1
“As newcomers, many of us apply rigid discipline to food planning in the belief that discipline is the answer. Once we extract ourselves from the ravages of self-indulgence and begin working the Steps, we find self-worth and we allow flexibility into our lives. We learn that things are not all black and white. There is gray.”
– Welcome Back, p. 2
“We realize that compulsive overeating is only a symptom of a deeper problem. We can choose to deal with the problem and reaffirm our commitment to living the Twelve Steps, or we can ignore the problem and perhaps continue to struggle with food.”
– Welcome Back, p. 2
“I will not waste time blaming myself, but instead, try again.”
– For Today, January 15
“I believe that I have been recovering since the day I walked into my first OA meeting. It’s just that my recovery has had some frightening detours. I did not relapse because I was bad, because God turned away from me, nor because I wanted to relapse. I have talked to hundreds of members about their relapse and not one of them wanted to return to food….The bottom line is that people relapse because they revert to an old behavior – compulsive eating – to help them handle their lives.”
– “No Imperfect Paths,” Lifeline, May 1989
“Weight loss is not what the OA program is about. A normal-size body is a fringe benefit received in the course of reconstructing that which cannot be seen. Inner change is the substance of the Twelve-Step program….”
– For Today, December 18
“I came home [from the Relapse Retreat] having had the word ‘relapse’ demystified because it was talked about so matter-of-factly without the stigma of failure attached to it…. I came out of my isolation and talked about my shame. I began to see that this was part of the recovery process. When I heard others talk about their bumpy paths to recovery, I saw that I wasn’t the only person on earth who had relapsed. I didn’t feel alone anymore.”
– “Relapse Retreat,” Lifeline, 1990
“’The compulsive overeater who still suffers’ isn’t always a newcomer to OA. He or she can also be an established member experiencing difficulties with the disease of compulsive overeating or with other problems. Seeing one of our members go into relapse or face personal problems can be frightening to us, and we may react with condemnation toward the member who breaks his or her abstinence or has other kinds of difficulties. Often we’re tempted to avoid the issue by avoiding the suffering person. Perhaps we use the slogan ‘Stick with the winners’ as a rationalization not to speak to the person in relapse at OA meetings, or never to call our friends who have stopped coming. When we react in these ways, we’re forgetting the primary purpose of our group, which is to carry OA’s message of hope to those who still suffer – including those among us who have heard the message many times.”
– The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 148
“Sooner or later the pink cloud stage wears off and things go disappointingly dull. We begin to think that AA doesn’t pay off after all. We become puzzled and discouraged.”
– The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 113
“About this slip business – I would not be too discouraged. I think you are suffering a great deal from a needless guilt. For some reason or other, the Lord has laid out tougher paths for some of us, and I guess you are treading one of them. God is not asking us to be successful. He is only asking us to try to be. That, you are surely doing. So I would not stay away from the program through any feeling of discouragement or shame. It’s just the place you should be. Why don’t you try just as a member? You don’t have to carry the whole program on your back, you know!”
– As Bill Sees It, #11
“No matter how grievous the alcohol obsession, we happily find that other vital choices can still be made. For example, we can choose to admit that we are personally powerless over alcohol; that dependence upon a Higher Power is a necessity, even if this be simple dependence on an AA group. Then we can choose to try for a life of honesty and humility, of selfless service to our fellows and to ‘God as we understand him.’ As we continue to make these choices and so move toward these high aspirations, our sanity returns and the compulsion to drink vanishes.”
– As Bill Sees It, #7
“Too little self-forgiveness and too little prayer – well, this combination adds up to slips.”
– As Bill Sees It, # 9
Diversity in Food Plans – Quotes from Our OA Literature
Not all groups follow the same eating plan or use the same meeting format. Some of our members must follow special diets for medical reasons. These differences are not important.
– Twelve Traditions of OA, p. 2
A person cannot be barred from OA because he or she differs from others in race, political views, religion, economic status, interpretation of the program, or food plan. Weight is not a criterion for membership.
– The Twelve Traditions of OA, p. 2
Note, too, that desire is required -- not success. Many people keep coming back even though they feel they have failed. The door never closes. As long as they keep coming back, they have a chance.
– The Twelve Traditions of OA, p. 3
Each individual is free to determine his or her own way of achieving abstinence according to personal needs and preferences.
– A Commitment to Abstinence (pamphlet), p. 1
Do I have a choice of plans? Yes. Choose any plan of eating from any source that works for you. In OA, we recognize that no two people are the same.
– Dignity of Choice (pamphlet), p. 2
OA is not a diet club, and we recommend no plan of eating in particular.
– Dignity of Choice, p. 8
OA takes no position on nutrition.
– Dignity of Choice, p. 8
Remember that the Twelve-Step Program of Overeaters Anonymous, and not any particular plan of eating, is the key to long-term recovery from compulsive eating.
– Dignity of Choice, p. 13
Developing a healthy plan of eating is one of the first tools of the program we use. While no plan of eating will be successful without diligent Step work, using a plan of eating as a tool allows us to deal with food in a calm, rational, and balanced way.
– A Plan of Eating (pamphlet)
When we honestly look at our eating patterns, we discover that not only do we habitually overeat, but we have a very strong preference for certain foods or food groups. Because these foods differ among individuals, we must each determine which foods trigger this craving behavior.
– A Plan of Eating
We define a plan of eating that leads us to abstinence. However, if we focus only on our eating behavior -- which is merely a symptom of the problem -- to the exclusion of the rest of the program, we are using OA only as a diet program and eventually will go back into our disease. To sustain our plan of eating for any length of time, we must embrace the whole program: the Steps, the Traditions, and the other tools.
– A Plan of Eating
A plan of eating is the beginning of learning a new, healthier way of eating. It is a way of life, not a temporary solution. Unlike dieting, it is not about deprivation. Choosing to follow a healthy plan of eating is a positive choice for life.
– A Plan of Eating
For many OA members there was apparently one exception to the process of becoming less of a perfectionist, and that was in regard to abstinence. I continued to hear more about abstinence at every OA meeting, but it seemed not everyone defined abstinence the same way. I heard about “perfect back-to-back” abstinence,. This term received the loudest and longest applause. I also heard about “gray sheet” abstinence, “sloppy” abstinence, “human” abstinence, “moderate meal” abstinence, and abstinence qualified by a host of other adjectives....Most troubling to me was the unspoken notion that one was worthy in the eyes of OA only if one’s abstinence was “perfect.” I began to see people dropping out when they broke their abstinence or if they couldn’t achieve the “perfect back-to-back” variety....The longer I am in OA the more convinced I am that there are many paths that one can successfully travel to attain the spiritual awakening mentioned in the 12th Step. For me, this also holds true for abstinence.
– “Freedom of Choice,” Abstinence, p. 13
In OA, we are free to follow any eating plan we choose: if we need a strict, weighed and measured diet, we can have it; if we need to avoid only one specific food, that’s what we have to do; if we need to change our whole approach because of changes in our health or any other aspect of our lives, we make that change. No one in OA disputes another’s individual approach to emotional recovery, and certainly there is unquestioned tolerance regarding the choice of a Higher Power. Why, then, is there often encroachment on an individual’s approach to physical recovery?
– ”Freedom of Choice,” Abstinence, p. 15
That night I heard the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. To be truthful, I didn’t have the requirement for membership. I only wanted to be thin. I had accepted I was meant to be miserable and afraid and couldn’t do all the things that “normal” people seemed to do so easily and confidently. I didn’t recognize my emotional and spiritual illness at the time, but I knew I needed help with my physical disease....After eighteen months, even I saw that food plans worked in isolation in OA were no more effective than those tried on my own.
– “The Moment it Clicked,” Abstinence, p. 46
Food plans and food sponsoring are a matter of individual choice; they are not the program....It’s great to have tools for a program of recovery that rewards us with sanity. But let’s not mistake the tools for the program. Let’s help each other find what works best for us and move on toward growth, recovery, and Fellowship.
– ”Mellowing in the Program,” Lifeline Sampler, p. 289
Today I believe abstinence is not a particular food plan but a tool I use to achieve my goal of sobriety. When I was rigidly following a food plan and not working the steps, I did not have peace in my life. Food was still my god. It was only when I worked the twelve steps and applied them in all aspects of my life that I achieved the serenity and peace that had long been my goals. I had to throw out the food plans. I worked at not compulsively overeating and eliminated foods that gave me problems. Today I am grateful that I was able to learn that there is no right or wrong way; I just had to find out what worked for me and do it.
– ”I Threw Out the Food Plans,” Lifeline Sampler, p. 324
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.
– The Tools of Recovery (pamphlet), p. 2
Each of us develops a personal plan of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her past experience.
– The Tools of Recovery, p. 2-3
OA takes no position on what constitutes proper food planning, either for weight loss or weight maintenance.
– OA is Not a Diet Club (pamphlet)
We offer unconditional acceptance and support to one another through OA meetings....
– OA is Not a Diet Club
SF 12SW Committee, Fall 201
OA Tradition 3: The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
As tradition three implies, a desire to abstain – to refrain from eating compulsively – is at the heart of OA membership. There are many opinions among us about what it means, exactly, to stop eating compulsively. Nobody is excluded from OA membership because of his or her personal opinion of how to achieve abstinence. Note, too, that while the desire to stop eating compulsively is required, a person doesn’t have to be abstinent to be welcome at OA meetings. We encourage one another to keep coming back, no matter what.
– Pages 129-135 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous