What Does Working the Program Mean?

OA is a Twelve-Step Fellowship much like Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s our one-day-at-a-time approach plus our members that make us different from other solutions you may have tried. You may not be familiar with a Twelve-Step program—and that’s okay, we’re here to help!

There is more information deeper in our website that will discuss in detail how to “work” these Steps. For now, let’s uncover some terms you may not know.

A Handy Guide to Terms and Concepts

Abstinence: “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])

Tools: We have nine Tools that guide us while we work our program of recovery, including:

  • A Plan of Eating
  • Sponsorship
  • Meetings
  • Telephone
  • Writing
  • Literature
  • Action Plan
  • Anonymity
  • Service

Plan of Eating: This gives us a daily guide to avoid trigger foods and any destructive eating behaviors.

Sponsorship: Sponsors have been working the program to the best of their ability and walk you through the Twelve Steps. 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. Click here for the sponsor relationship statement from the Board of Trustees.

Meetings: Here at OA Foot Steps, we have nearly 170 meetings to choose from, covering a 24-hour period and many topics. The meeting list will conveniently adjust to your own time. OA.org also offers over 6,000 face-to-face and virtual meetings worldwide, and in languages other than English. Find meetings that will work for you and your schedule. Meetings help us learn about the Tools and Steps, and also provide fellowship, which is critical to our recovery. We have discovered we need each other to get well.

Telephone: We reach out to one another between meetings, for support for ourselves and to offer help to others. Many members call, text, or email their sponsors and other OA members daily. Telephone or electronic contact also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.

Writing: Some call it journaling. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly and determine any necessary action.

Literature: OA has excellent books, and pamphlets–that help us understand how to “work the Twelve Steps” and give us examples of what life in recovery looks like.

Action Plan: This Tool helps incorporate the use of all the other OA Tools to bring structure, balance, and manageability into our lives and helps us work our program consistently.

Anonymity: Anonymity gives OA members freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip. A deeper understanding of this Tool is that it assures that we each are one among many. OA has no stars.

Service: You will hear a lot about service in OA. This Tool is addressed in greater detail deeper in our website. But, for now, please know that any form of service – no matter how small – helps reach a fellow sufferer while adding to the quality of our recovery.

Now that we’ve covered key parts of the program, let’s see what it might look like to work the program on a daily basis.

Your day starts with reading some program literature, or taking time to pray and meditate on what you have read or on something about the day ahead. You might phone, text, or email a program friend or your sponsor to go over your Plan of Eating for the day. You might even get to a meeting. At the end of your day, you may reflect on what happened and what you learned. This simple routine keeps us on track.

Next: What to Expect

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