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When you arrive at the meeting, you will find men and women who share a common problem — compulsive eating — and have found a common solution: the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous.
Meetings vary in size from as few as three members to fifteen or even more in larger towns. Many members attend more than one meeting a week. You will be warmly welcomed.
The meeting usually opens with the Serenity Prayer, and you may hear a reading called “Our Invitation to You,” which describes the disease of compulsive overeating and the Twelve-Step solution. Meeting formats may vary, but all OA groups are the same in that they seek recovery on three levels — physical, emotional and spiritual — through the Twelve Steps, and the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
Although meeting formats vary, you may hear a speaker open the meeting and speak for 10 to 15 minutes about what life was like before OA, what happened, and what he or she is like now; or someone might read from OA or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) literature. Other members will share their experience, strength and hope. You will have an opportunity to introduce yourself as a newcomer, if you like. You will find that you are not alone, that there is a way out of your desperation. Because anonymity is a critical principle of the OA programme, you are assured that what you share will be held in confidence. This provides the safety you need to share your experiences honestly.
You may recognise your own story when you listen to others share. Listening will help you find others who have what you want, whether it be weight loss, clarity, joy in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, or freedom from the obsession of self-destructive eating behaviours.
When members share, you may hear them refer to a Higher Power or to God. OA is not a religious programme and does not subscribe to any specific religious ideology. It is a programme that practices spiritual principles, and members individually approach these principles with a Higher Power of their understanding. You can read or listen to some shares from OA members here.
Meetings usually last between one and one and a half hours. Before and after the meeting, feel free to ask questions and obtain some OA literature to help you learn about the programme. By asking for help, you are taking an important step toward recovery.
Because OA is self-supporting through member contributions, a basket will be passed for donations which are used to pay rent, buy literature and help support OA’s service bodies.
You will notice that some members volunteer to help keep the meeting going, such as the group secretary, and treasurer. Members find that doing service in OA helps keep them from eating compulsively. Service is important to their recovery and allows them to give back to the Fellowship that has saved their lives. Service opportunities exist in all levels of the Fellowship, from setting up chairs at a meeting to being on the Board of Trustees.
The meeting usually ends with the OA Promise, “I Put My Hand in Yours,” or a similar closing. All meetings have a slightly different feel, so try attending as many other groups at other times and locations that you can. It is a good idea to attend at least six meetings to learn the many ways OA can help you. If your area doesn’t offer a large number of face-to-face meetings, there are online or telephone meetings at www.oa.org.
If you decide that you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance. You are not alone any more. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!