- I asked about Facebook for O.A. members previously and I still find the answer confusing. I feel inadequate to give a specific answer to those who ask about the anonymity piece. Most everyone uses their email address accompanied by their personal photo. How can one protect their anonymity when the public sees a photo of the OAer on FB talking about the benefits of OA, the miracles they are/have experienced etc. etc. Also – a woman shared in a meeting last week that she scans the Reach Out and meeting list and places it on her FB page each month when it is published. Along with that she states the benefits she has received from the program. On one hand I think that is totally FABULOUS that we are getting such great publicity, on the other hand that appears to me to be a huge breach of the Traditions. What is WSO opinion on this?
- I will try to give you my perspective about anonymity on Facebook.
If on my own newsfeed I talk about the benefits of OA, I am not in harmony with Tradition Eleven, because social media is “public media of communication”.
If I “like” the official Overeaters Anonymous page on Facebook, (https://www.facebook.com/overeatersanonymousofficial/), someone may make an assumption that I am a member of OA, which could compromise my anonymity. A member should use discretion when “liking” a page like that if they are worried about their anonymity. While it is not directly saying we are members, if we don’t want anyone to make that assumption, then don’t “like” the OA official Facebook page.
There are now two official groups on Facebook; meetings that occur “not in real time” 99033 https://www.facebook.com/groups/Overeaters.100Pounders/ and 99032 https://www.facebook.com/groups/334712753623042/. Both have their meeting numbers on the banner. They are closed Facebook groups. If you click on them, you can see names of those who are in that group. This again does not say they are members of OA, just members of that group. Here again, someone could make an assumption, but the member themselves are not professing to be members of Overeaters Anonymous. I liken this to attending a face-to-face meeting. Anyone can see you enter a building with an OA sign on the door, but unless that person enters the meeting and hears the member identify themselves, there is no admission to membership. If you join one of these groups, what you post is not visible to anyone other than those who’ve also joined.
The member who is posting meeting lists and her benefits from OA is definitely not in harmony with Tradition Eleven. If the meeting list has a contact name and number, she is also compromising the members on that list. You might ask her not to do that. Also explain that if she posts she is a member and then relapses, then people may assume that OA doesn’t work. That is why we protect our anonymity on social media.
- I am a recovered compulsive overeater and am sponsoring several women. One of my sponsees knows that I prepare meals and charge for my services to clients who need help while learning to eat healthy. Is it a break of traditions if one of my sponsees asked me to prepare and sell her breakfast items to help her out? Is it ok to charge her for my services and I am her sponsor? Is it a break in traditions for me to do this? I have not given her an answer yet.
- I don’t believe this is a break in any tradition. This is your business and she is paying for services rendered.
- I have a question for you. I would like to know if it is against the traditions that a spontaneous committee of compulsive overeaters organizes a seminar. We relied on the area intergroup. It’s wrong? Is required?
- Service bodies can operate in whatever way they feel is best, in order to carry the message of recovery by working the 12 Steps of OA.
If your Bylaws or Policy manual state certain committees or service bodies are responsible for organizing a seminar, then it is appropriate to follow the bylaws/policy manual.
- I am a member of OA. Is it breaking a tradition if I had business cards made. I in no way want to set myself up as better than, or special, in this group. I am no better or worse. I am part of the group. On the card is my name, phone number, and email. It says OA at the top and then it says “If you want what we have, do what we do? Is this acceptable?
- I see no problem with having business card made. In fact, I think it is good idea to help carry the message.
However instead of using your full last name I would use my last initial in order to honor anonymity.
It is also fine to say OA, but don’t use the OA logo. That is reserved for OA service bodies who have requested permission for its use.
TRADITIONS – ELEVEN
- Is it a break of Tradition 11 to participate in a talk-radio segment of a local radio program to share about OA, local meeting locations, in an effort to inform folks of OA as a resource of recovery for people with food issues? Of course observing anonymity at the public level with changing names/no last names. Is it in conflict with the idea of “attraction, not promotion”, or is it considered educating the general public about OA? I was speaking with my sponsor briefly about it and she said “attraction not promotion”, thinking it would be promoting it. I feel like we need to educate others about OA. Is it better to buy a bunch of pamphlets addressed to the health professional and go about it in a quieter way, physician by physician? I don’t think many physicians know about OA. I’ve been in the program for 40 years and often wish more people knew about it. Any thoughts? Thanks so much, I wanted to touch base before proceeding with the radio station.
- You asked: Is it a break of Tradition 11 to participate in a talk-radio segment of a local radio program to share about OA, local meeting locations, in an effort to inform folks of OA as a resource of recovery for people with food issues?
It is NOT a break of Tradition 11. While our individual membership is anonymous, OA is not a secret society. May I suggest you read the chapter on Tradition 11 in Overeaters Anonymous 12 and 12?
The second paragraph in the chapter says “the first suggestion is that we publicize OA to the public-at-large without promoting it. Thus, we use the public media of communication radio, television, newspapers, Billboards, telephone book ads, handbills on bulletin boards, films, displays of health fairs, etc. to provide factual information about our program.”
Participating in a talk show, if the OA participant has strong recovery and an excellent knowledge of our traditions, is a great way to spread our message.
You wrote: Of course, observing anonymity at the public level with changing names/no last names.
And of course, if a TV show, no faces too.
You wrote: Is it in conflict with the idea of “attraction, not promotion”, or is it considered educating the general public about OA? I was speaking with my sponsor briefly about it and she said “attraction not promotion”, thinking it would be promoting it. I feel like we need to educate others about OA. Is it better to buy a bunch of pamphlets addressed to the health professional and go about it in a quieter way, physician by physician? I don’t think many physicians know about OA. I’ve been in the program for 40 years and often wish more people knew about it. Any thoughts? Thanks so much, I wanted to touch base before proceeding with the radio station.
You can do both! You can tell your story and provide literature to your doctors AND you can spread the message through public media as long as we focus on attraction. Where is the line between attraction and promotion? Among other things, we don’t make promises such as “Lose 10 pounds your first month!” We don’t have table at health fairs with big banners showing before and after pictures. In my mind, promotion is about promising someone else what will happen to them. Attraction is sharing what happened to us.
I do suggest re-reading our 12 and 12 before making a public appearance. My experience is that it’s a great refresher and helps prepare me for PI work.
MEETINGS – PRIVACY
- I am wondering if OA has published any statements on privacy at meetings. My home meeting gathers in a room with full length windows, wall to wall, on the side of the building right next to the door. This means that our meeting is on display to anyone coming into the building. The room is equipped with privacy shades that provide light but no vision into the room. I generally get to the meeting early so that these shades can be pulled. A few in our group balk at pulling the shades, preferring to have the sunlight. We will have a business meeting on Saturday and a group conscience vote will be taken. In the meantime I was hoping to gather any information you might have to help us with our decision.
- There is no OA policy about privacy in meetings. It is up to the group conscience of the group so having a business meeting is the thing to do. You want the members to be comfortable at the meeting and feel that their anonymity is protected. I agree that closing the shades seems like a good idea.
TRADITIONS – ANONYMITY
- I’m writing a book about my journey. Regarding traditions 11 & 12, what guidance can you offer me on the part about my weight loss journey and these traditions? If you have written information you can email me that would be great, but if possible, I’d like to talk to someone as well. I’ve been in program since 1975.
- I am a published author myself. I also incorporated my story into the book, but did not identify myself as a member of Overeaters Anonymous, thereby protecting anonymity at the level of press. There are several ways you can do this and stay in harmony with the Traditions. When my manuscript was complete, I asked a friend who’d served as the delegate co-chair of the OA world service bylaws committee and he gave me his blessing.
MEETINGS – ANNOUNCEMENTS
- My meeting has encountered issues with regard to individual members and we need some guidance. How do we handle announcements for members who have passed on, funeral arrangement information, as well as announcements for sick members, their need for assistance, etc.? Are these outside issues that should be handled after the meeting is closed or can these be considered OA related announcements during the meeting? Also, what about circulating cards for condolences and get well wishes during the meeting? Or making announcements about signing them during the meeting, even if the cards are not circulated?
- I suggest making these kinds of announcements about members after the meeting has closed. If your group has an email list of members perhaps it could be done there as well. The other thing to do is to take up a group conscience about this. I would circulate the cards after the meeting.
MEETINGS – CONTACT LIST
- A person at our meeting wants to redo our list of meeting locations in our region we hand out for the newcomer. They want to put the phone contact person’s name and number for each of the meetings on this list. I’m not comfortable with this and am used to only having the Day, Time, and location on the handouts for other meetings in the area. Will you please email me with how O.A. feels we should have our Meeting Location List done?
- There is no official policy on how a local meeting list should be maintained. This would be something the Intergroup would consider and then create the meeting list based on that group conscience decision.
The WSO meeting lists contains the meeting contact name (first name and last initial) and phone number. The meeting list that is maintained in my local area also contains the name and phone number of the meeting contact.
I believe that it is important to offer this information to help carry the message. I have been the contact person for several meetings over the years and have never regretted giving that service. I have received calls from newcomers who want to know a little more about what happens at a meeting. I have had members who are traveling through our area just want to confirm that the meeting information is correct and that someone will be there if they visit our meeting. I have never received an inappropriate call when giving this service. My first name and phone number is how I am listed. This maintains my anonymity and yet gives the person who is reaching out the connection that they may need to decide to come to their first meeting.
- I want to know that how we can attract newcomers to our meetings? Sometimes they come to meetings but sooner or later they fail.
- A few things that I can recommend that I have experienced works really well:
When a newcomer attends a meeting, ask them their first name and welcome them. Organise your meeting topic (discuss this in Group Conscience if you need to) so that you change the format slightly when a newcomer is in attendance. You can then ask one or more current members to share briefly on – a) What they were like before OA re food, b) What actions they took for their recovery and their recovery process and c) What they are like now. It is better that these members sharing are abstinent. Encourage more than one share – often a person may not be able to identify with one person’s story but they can with another. Ask your current OA members – What made them want to come back to OA? What made them stay? And ask the members to stick with this in their shares. In the early days of my attendance at meetings, even though I didn’t understand it, I recognised that the members sharing had been eating as I was still eating but they had found a way in OA to stop doing that. Of all the things that I remember were shared – this message was the most crucial. It’s the one that will bring newcomers back when they might otherwise not and why they may come back to meetings after they have been away a while and have finally surrendered.
Give them a Newcomer packet. This is the Link to the English version on the website http://bookstore.oa.org/pc_product_detail.asp?key=A578EB6FAEEE4B21B325FD0D29FFAA33 This packet contains the leaflets: Dignity of Choice, #140; A Plan of Eating, #145; The Tools of Recovery, #160; To the Newcomer, #270; Questions and Answers, #170; Many Symptoms, One Solution, #106; and a Lifeline trial subscription card. But that is the English version. I wonder what you have translated into your own language that might be suitable to go into such a packet? Even though my own group is English speaking they could not afford to buy the newcomers packets many years ago so they used to make up their own in ordinary envelopes with a selection of the pamphlets. We also asked our own members to share very briefly and “typed” these shares on to one sheet of paper and included these with the packet. We now buy the packets but you could perhaps make up some yourselves as members from what you have already translated. The envelopes used for the packet from the OA bookstore has a section for current members to put their phone number. You can still do this on your own packets in Iran. If you give the packet to the newcomer at their first meeting, it means they have something to go away with that they can read and reflect upon.
One of the best ways I have seen to reach out to newcomers and try to cover the topics that newcomers maybe asking in their head but not know how to ask is to build in “Newcomer Meetings”. This just means that on a regular basis, the regular OA group devotes the entire meeting to Newcomers. There is a document downloadable in English from the website “Newcomer Meetings Leaders Kit” https://oa.org/files/pdf/Newcomer-Meeting_Leader-2016.pdf that is well worth your reading and translating (you will need to apply for the licences as normal). The document has a suggested specific meeting format for a Newcomers Meeting as well as a short description of likely topics such as i) The decease of compulsive eating, ii) How to abstain from compulsive eating one day at a time, iii) How it works – The Twelve Steps, iv) The Twelve Traditions, & v) The Tools of Recovery. English speaking groups sometimes download this document and use it, but they can also order a specific “Newcomer Meeting Leaders Kit” http://bookstore.oa.org/pc_product_detail.asp?key=FBFA8EB61F9D4798A83DAC992CBB6D3B .This contains the same document I mention above, but also includes many other OA pamphlets suitable for these types of meetings. They are all listed in the document itself. These topics are useful for all members, not just newcomers. My home group members are always happy to “lead” these meetings and attend them because the topics are useful for all of us.
Time for Newcomer Meetings – some areas of the world have enough OA members in attendance at meetings that they can have an OA meeting on any normal topic and a Newcomer Meetings running at the same time. My own area does not fall into that category. We do not have enough members so we simply build it in to our topics that we cover regularly. An example is that we might cover as meeting topics in any one month – Week 1) Step, Week 2) OA Literature, Week 3) Group Conscience & a Tradition and Week 4) Newcomer Meeting. In each of the other weeks if a newcomer is present, we change the meeting as mentioned in 1 above and announce that we will have a specific meeting for newcomers on …. And state the date.
The suggested meeting format includes: “To the newcomer, we suggest attending at least six different meetings to learn the many ways OA can help you.”. This means that a newcomer is encouraged to attend without any commitment. The language we use in OA is different to that ‘outside’ and one meeting is not enough to understand fully how OA works.
Some meetings I have known give out a single sheet of paper entitled “Clock of Support”. This has a list of members from that group, with details of how to contact them – mobile telephone number & email address and specific times & ways the member prefers to be contacted. This means that the newcomer has an entire contact list of local members and because it includes suggested times, it covers things like members working times if they do “shift” work.
Some meetings follow up newcomers after they have attended, especially if they attend a couple of times and then do not reappear. I have found that sometimes a person can attend for a while and something happens in their lives that they “fall away” from meetings without actually being conscious of the decision to do so. A friendly message, either by phone or text can often put a thought in their mind that brings them back. Your members can arrange to do this within their group conscience time.
The above is aimed at encouraging newcomers to see the recovery that is possible and attend meetings. The next thing we as OA members need to do is to sponsor newcomers and facilitate them working their program so that they recover from compulsive eating. We can do this by sponsorship but we can also encourage members to attend workshops and step studies so that can begin and continue to abstain from compulsive overeating. There is OAs step study http://bookstore.oa.org/pc_product_detail.asp?key=E4E792B154194DBCA59086EA265634F9. This is a large book and translation of it would be a big task but it is a way to encourage members through the steps. It uses OA literature as well as the Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book). It is designed to be used as a step study in 13 separate sessions of two hours each. But it can be used between sponsor and sponsee. Some groups are organising a series of one day workshops that will cover several of the sessions in each of those one days with a view to working through the whole step study over a period of time. The book is also available on e-reader format, which may be better for you when considering translation.
We do always have to bear in mind that OA members often have the seed of recovery sown a long time before they become members. We are tasked in Step 12 to carry the OA message of recovery and we can only ever do our best job with this – the rest is up to the individual.
MEETINGS – WE CARE SHEETS
- Might you be able to clarify the policy the OA WSO suggests around the use of the “We Care” Sheet in a meeting. I’ve attended meetings in other fellowships where the policy has been to destroy the list at the end of the meeting to protect everyone’s anonymity. I was shocked to learn that the OA meeting I’ve been attending keeps the We Care Lists from meetings in a binder from all meetings past. With that said, it is going to be brought up for further discussion at our upcoming business meeting as no one clearly knew what OA WSO policy was around use of “We Care” Sheets.
- OA WSO does not have a policy about the use of We Care Sheets at meetings. I personally attend meetings that do not have We Care sheets at all and others that do. It would be up to the group conscience of the meeting as to whether they will keep them on hand or destroy them at the end of the meeting. Tradition Four allows for group autonomy.
In the OA Handbook for Members, Groups and Service Bodies under the responsibilities of the secretary one of the duties it mentions is: “Keeping the weekly sign in sheets of names, cities, telephone numbers and/or email addresses of group members showing which persons are sponsors and which are newcomers who should receive a friendly call the following week” (page 16).
Also, it mentions: “Providing safekeeping for group records – electronic or paper – for a reasonable time” (page 17).
If the group decides to keep this information it should be kept safe to protect the anonymity of the group members.
- I just received the announcement of the OA Facebook. I was about to like it and share it on my page but then paused. How do I reconcile posting OA information on my Facebook page, which includes my name and photograph, with anonymity? This passage from the foreword in the Big Book in particular comes to mind: Page xiii “When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead ‘a member of Alcoholics Anonymous’.” As I am confident this concern was carefully considered in advance of launching the Facebook page, I’m hoping you could share with me the conclusions reached on how to use the Facebook page without contradicting the guidance from the Big Book.
- This has indeed been a subject of much consideration and discussion. As I’m sure you already know, OA is not a secret society. The organization is not anonymous but our members are. It is our Twelfth Step responsibility to reach out to spread the word about OA to all who may suffer. Facebook is one new means of doing so.
To avoid breaks of anonymity on the page itself, comments are not enabled. All posts to the page either come from the WSO or are moderated and these are only accepted from service body pages that observe our traditions.
Facebook does not make it possible to prevent members or others from sharing posts. It therefore becomes the individual member’s responsibility to know and act according to our traditions. When you think about it, that has always been the case. From the earliest days of OA, it has been up to individual members to know and live our tradition of anonymity. Human nature suggests there have been and always be breaks. These are teaching opportunities.
If you haven’t seen them yet, OA recently released guidelines about anonymity in a digital world. You might want to take a look: https://oa.org/new-guidelines-anonymity-digital-world/
SOCIAL MEDIA – OUTSIDE ISSUE
- I would like to start a group on a fitness tracker website to the end goal of encouraging those who are suffering from this allergy to get outside their comfort zones by encouraging one another to get out of their habits of isolation. Encouraging one another to reach a healthy life-style change, that being – just getting outside our own world of self to serve one another. Not making the goal the number of steps we take each day or the number of steps in a year, or… but rather encouraging one another to just get outside of our typical self-induced jail cell. The descriptor of the group would be: “This is not a meeting or a replacement thereof, the only requirement to join our group is a desire to get healthy: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We are a closed group actively working on individual and group step goals. Our group has been created so we can serve – encouraging each other to attain healthy life habits. We are committed to walk outside of our comfort zones in order to help one another.” My question – Would creating such a group be breaking our traditions of anonymity?
- Thanks for your interest in helping other members of OA through the use of social media. Your question about the traditions brings up two important issues, anonymity and endorsement of outside issues. OA’s new Guideline for Anonymity in a Digital World addresses the concerns for such a group on the type of site you are interested in using.
Social Network Groups
“Other websites may offer networking forums and social groups, but they also have a product to sell. On this type of site, there is a chance of the message of OA being confused with that of the website. While we are free to participate on such sites, it is not a good idea to use the OA name or logo in any way. It could be mistaken that OA is in some way affiliated with and promoting the site and its products.”
You are free to create a group on the site you mentioned, but if you do, do not use the Overeaters Anonymous name or logo in any way. So long as you do not mention Overeaters Anonymous in your discussions, then the issue of anonymity is also mute, because the group is then open to the public and does not reveal any of the member’s affiliation to OA.
I am attaching the Guidelines as you may find other information about navigating the digital world while honoring the OA Traditions.
TRADITIONS – ELEVEN
- I have written a memoir about a deceased member at her request to help others with her story. I do not use my or her last name but I do use her picture since she is deceased. If I only identify as a friend rather than an OA member, would I be able to use my name? I don’t plan to charge for the work except for production costs if printed and to donate proceeds to my local OA. My question is if it is published electronically, how to handle registration, etc. Do you have any guidance on this?
- Tradition Eleven states, “…we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication.”
From Page 194 in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous:
In fact, the eleventh tradition states that all individuals maintain their personal anonymity when speaking of their own anonymity and when speaking of their OA participation in any public medium of communication. In keeping the eleventh tradition, those of us who write books or are interviewed for a newspaper story or radio or TV broadcasts have two options. We can avoid calling ourselves OA members (even if we say we’re compulsive eaters). Then we are free to use our full names or have our faces appear. Here the emphasis is on the individual, and we are not connected publicly with the OA program.
Anonymity is not an issue when OA members do not disclose their membership in OA. A member may refer to a “support group” without identifying it as OA or identifying the support group as a Twelve-Step program. The term “spiritual recovery program” would also be ok.
Our other option is to go ahead and identify ourselves as OA members. “When we do this, we make sure our faces are not shown and our last names are not used. When we are careful to respect the eleventh tradition in this way, the emphasis remains on OA, rather than on ourselves.”
In this instance your writing is about your friend and her membership. I assume you will not be using her full name in the manuscript. As to your own anonymity as long as you do not mention your membership in OA you may use your full name as the author. Some authors who use their full names might refer to support groups or have a list of information of where help is available, which is fine as long as the authors do not disclose their OA membership. But it would not be in keeping with Tradition Eleven to say that OA had helped you or that you are/were a member. Just remember that if you are ever interviewed, to continue to protect your own anonymity and OA.
I’m afraid I cannot answer your question on registration or how to navigate the publishing world, as that is an outside issue.
TRADITIONS – FIVE AND ELEVEN
- 12&12, Tradition Eleven, Page 193: “The first suggestion is that we publicize OA to the public at large without promoting it. Thus, we use the public media of communications– radio, television, newspapers, billboards, telephone book ads, handbills on bulletin boards, films, displays at health fairs, et cetera– to provide factual information about our program. We want people to know what OA is and how to find our meetings. In that advertising, however, we do not promote OA with personal appeals, celebrity endorsements, or other such means of persuasion.” Hi, I am struggling with Tradition Eleven and Anonymity. My home meeting meets at a church library. Also, a OA meeting meets a different day of the week in the same room. Both meetings are open meetings. The church office manager received a note from the other meeting to please remove the OA meetings form calendar that is printed in the weekly church bulletin because it infringes on the Anonymity of the group. As a OA fellow, I understand that the group conscience of that meeting has chosen this decision. I also see the group conscience of my home meeting confused. Publicizing the time and location of our meeting within the building that we are meeting at is supporting tradition 11, and yet we are informed that it is not supporting the tradition of Anonymity. We are now questioned by a non-OA fellow, the contact person to rent the room, why we are not doing the same or following the same rules. I do not know how to respond to this person.
- These questions are interesting and important. I will share with you my view on the matter. My view draws from 14 years in recovery and 13 years of service beyond the group level. At the end of the day, this is my view and represents no group conscience. These are the points I would bring to my meeting if the topic came up.
Early in my time doing service, I was taught that OA is not a secret society. Our members are anonymous, our fellowship is not. Tradition Five reminds us of our primary purpose, to carry the message to the still suffering compulsive overeater. How are we to carry that message if our fellowship hides in the shadows? If people cannot find our meetings?
Tradition Eleven teaches that our personal anonymity on the media level is important and it also reminds us that we are a program of attraction. We make no promises in our outreach. We seek our fellow compulsive eaters and tell them we have a solution. We promise no weight loss. We promise no glory or fame. We don’t even promise a better life. We simply offer a solution and we tell people where to go to find it (OA meetings).
When we take step Twelve, we make a personal commitment to try to carry OA’s message of recovery to compulsive overeaters.
My view is that if we have an opportunity to tell people where and when our meetings are and we say “no thanks” we aren’t practicing our primary purpose or our Step Twelve commitment. We are hiding. That isn’t good for the fellowship and it surely isn’t good for the still suffering compulsive eater.
- Myself and another Intergroup Board member had a discussion tonight regarding anonymity and the WSO OA Face Book page. (I reviewed the “OA Guidelines for anonymity in the digital world” 4-page document but I am still unclear. I notice that some people on this official OA Face Book page show their faces, full names and that they are members of OA. Others show an animal etc. rather than their faces but show their full names and that they are members of OA. This WSO Face Book page can be opened by anyone in the world. Please clarify if this is permissible or is it a Tradition violation. I was under the assumption that we are not allowed to show our faces nor state our last names when we state we are affiliated with OA either in a Face Book page, other places on the Internet, magazines or newspapers etc. Please advise!
- As you can imagine, this has indeed been a subject of much consideration and discussion. I’m sure you already know, OA is not a secret society. To fulfill our primary purpose, we need to use all the tools available and today that includes social media. I can best summarize hours of discussion with this: What we do on Facebook, as an organization, helps spread the OA message of recovery through the twelve steps. When someone “Likes” or shares a post, that might be a personal endorsement of the post or even OA, but it is not a public declaration of membership. I, personally, like and share content from many organizations to which I have no membership but with who’s goals and values I identify.All posts to the page either come from the WSO or are moderated and these are only accepted from service bodies that observe our traditions. Facebook does not make it possible to prevent members or others from sharing posts. It therefore becomes the individual member’s responsibility to know and act according to our traditions. When you think about it, that has always been the case. From the earliest days of OA, it has been up to individual members to know and live our tradition of anonymity. Human nature suggests there have been and always will be breaks. These are teaching opportunities.
- I’m from a European country. I do Facebook service in that country. I have a question related to fan page OA on Facebook. When creating a fan page, you have to sign up for Facebook. How did you solve this problem? Have you created a fictitious account from which you created a profile?
- In my experience, when creating a Not for Profit Facebook page, the identity of the creator is not revealed. To confirm this, I created a simple Facebook page. After doing this, I could not find any personal information connected to the site. I asked someone else to see if they could find any personal information and they couldn’t find my identity either. You can look at this test page here: https://www.facebook.com/NotSoMuchABQ/.
You can certainly do what I did, and create a test page and confirm to your satisfaction that your anonymity is preserved.
- I’m wondering how OA groups can post an ad on Facebook that would be placed in areas of our intergroup.
- I’m afraid your question about placing ads on Facebook is outside the expertise of this trustee (me). There are no instructions for this available on oa.org. I can suggest you reach out to the OA PI mail group. There may be someone there with the experience you’re looking for. I’ve attached a flyer from about a year ago, that describes the group and how to join (Public Information Email Group).
- I attended an OA meeting and after the meeting ended the leader told about a Facebook-group to keep in touch with each other. Is this according to traditions? Should OA be affiliated with Facebook?
- I like to ask a different question. Why wouldn’t this be according to OA traditions? The main concern I would have is anonymity. I know that Facebook has the ability to create secret groups that require an invitation to join. WhatsApp has the same sort of thing (I am a member of a WhatsApp private group). Properly setup, only members of the secret Facebook group know who the other members are. As a result, public anonymity is preserved and I believe our traditions are met.
“Should OA be affiliated with Facebook?”
I ask a different question. Are we affiliating by having a Facebook page? I believe the answer is no. We don’t affiliate with churches when we hold our meetings in their rooms. We don’t affiliate with newspapers when we place meeting announcements on their calendars and OA pages on Facebook are not affiliation. These things all seem equivalent to me. We are using a service available to the public. Using that service is not affiliation.
I’ve shared my thoughts with you on these matters. These views represent my interpretation of our OA traditions based on my experience in OA and on what I read in our literature. I encourage you to discuss these matters with your local OA members.
Response: Since English/Am is not my native tongue Im not sure if affiliated is the exact word I was looking for. I was thinking OA should not get mixed up with private “organisations” as such, not LEND its name to something that is not OA approved lest newcomers might get the wrong idea of what OA is. Trad 5. If you rent a room to hold meetings there is usually a meeting format, steps and traditions to be read, literature that explains OA and the solution to people. If you use OAs name on a fb-group and no such things comes with it, is it still OA? Is it still giving OA to the newcomer or does things get confused (you can’t find the group yourself, you are not welcome unless you attended six live meetings prior, you hear people talk about different solutions) Trad 3 “The only requirement for membership… “This fb-group require you attended six live meetings before you can join. How can a secret group be open to anyone (and anonymous at the same time)? Trad 5. I think its a difference between a closed group to serve a few invited compared to a meeting always accessible to anyone who needs it. Anyways my concern was to say its OA and to use OAs name. It might not be a bad idea to keep in touch (as a tool) via fb. But when you name somerting OA I thought there is responsibility that comes with it, to not call any group OA and to actually give OA-solutions to the one who seeks it.
- I think we’re not talking about the same thing.
Is this Facebook group a registered OA meeting or just OA fellows gathering to talk about program and life (such as discussing their step work or service, their kids or gardens etc.)? If they are a registered OA meeting with requirements of the sort you outline, I agree with you completely. If this is a gathering of OA members, like members going out for coffee after a meeting, then my only concern would be using OA or Overeaters Anonymous to identify this secret/private group. I confess I don’t have a big concern, but it’s a matter that I think needs wider discussion.
I will do three things to follow-up:
- I don’t think we have any official OA groups registered as meetings but I will confirm.
- I will discuss our World Service Office and the rest of the board, the use of OA and/or Overeaters Anonymous to identify private groups
- I will get back to you when I have completed the first two tasks.
We do not have any Facebook groups registered as official OA groups (meetings). This topic will be discussed at our August board meeting (Aug 24-26).
TRADITIONS – ELEVEN AND TWELVE
- A member of an OA meeting I attend gave a report this week on the latest intergroup meeting. Being treasurer for another group and having a cash donation to make to intergroup, I asked her who the new intergroup treasurer is. She wouldn’t tell me because of anonymity (I don’t attend IG meetings). She was supported in this by others in the meeting. Anonymity became the topic of the meeting, It was a good discussion, but we never resolved the question of when it is appropriate to give the names of trusted servants to members of the fellowship. When is it appropriate? When is it inappropriate?
- Tradition 11 states:
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always
maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication
This is where our anonymity lies.
Tradition 12 states:
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Page 201 OA 12 & 12 Anonymity is not the same thing as secrecy. As OA’s pamphlet, The Tools of Recovery, says, “It is not a break of anonymity to use our full names within our group or OA service bodies.” Many of us have found that our OA service work is made easier when we fully identify ourselves, and it becomes easier for others to reach out to us when we need help.
Within the program, and especially in our elected positions we need to know people’s names. It’s OK to give out the names of the Chair, Vice Chair Secretary and Treasurer.
Anonymity at the group level means I don’t share who said what at a meeting. I can share the message, not the messenger…. I don’t tell another member who showed up at the meeting. “What you hear here, whom you see here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”
ABSTINENCE – Q&A
DIGNITY OF CHOICE
- When reading the Dignity of Choice pamphlet about plans of eating and it looks like one plan is the 3-0-1 Plan. What does 3-0-1 means? Is it a plan of eating?
- 301 is listed in Dignity of Choice as one of the plans of eating.
Many members of Overeaters Anonymous use 301 as their plan of eating.
Some members do better with more structure in their plan of eating. Some members do better with less.
That being said, sponsors are free to say that they will only sponsor people who use (or do not use) any specific plan of eating–and some do.
If a sponsor is saying that he/she will not sponsor people using 301, one has the choice of using a different plan of eating or finding a different sponsor.
On page 12 of Dignity of Choice, it states:
“Some of us require a more structured plan than others. Some of us must avoid foods that others can eat freely. We are all different. … We accept the views and needs of others, always retaining our own plan of eating as our commitment and priority. World Service Business Conference Policy 2000a (amended 2005) states that ‘No OA members shall be attending, sharing, leading and/or serving as a speaker at an OA meeting due to choice of food plan’. …”
On page 8, it says (underlines added), “What follows are samples of what some OA members have chosen as plans of eating. They may help you as written, or as a guide in developing your own plan.”
OA members are free to choose any plan of eating that works for them, including, but not limited to any of the plans of eating listed in Dignity of Choice. For example, the Diabetic Exchange Plan is very good, even if one is not diabetic. Some members have plans provided to them by their doctor or other health care professional. Some members use the plans supplied by non-OA weight loss groups as their plan of eating while working their OA program.
The important thing is to have a plan that one can live with and that it works as an abstinence “line in the sand” while working the steps.
The Tools of Recovery pamphlet states on pages 1-2 (underlines added):
“As a tool, a plan of eating helps us abstain from compulsive eating, guides us in our dietary decisions, and defines what, when, how, where and why we eat.
“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. … Each of us develops a personal plan of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her past experience. Many of us find it essential to take guidance from our sponsors to develop a plan of eating that reflects an honest desire to achieve and maintain abstinence.
“Although individual plans of eating are as varied as our members, most OA members agree that some plan—no matter how flexible or structured—is necessary.”
FOOD PLAN WHILE TRAVELING
- Traveling to a foreign country from the USA there may be some cultural/custom questions about food. I wanted to know what my options are regarding taking what’s offered me in someone’s home when traveling.
- I think that would depend on each individual member’s plan of eating. Each person develops their own plan of eating. There is no “right” or “wrong” plan. It is only important to have one.
The main thing to keep in mind while traveling is that God wants me to be restored to sanity. When faced with a food question, I ask myself and my Higher Power, what is the “sane” choice. I often change how I eat when traveling because it is the “sane” thing to do.
ABSTINENCE – COINS
- Are these coins for the “abstinence” days/months/etc or “for time in program?”
- This seems to come up a lot. It means abstaining from overeating, binging, starving and/or purging.The chips are for abstinence in program. They are given to members for days, months or years of abstinence. It is to acknowledge that the members have abstained and show others that it is possible to achieve and maintain abstinence in OA.
ABSTINENCE – GROUP CONSCIENCE REQUIREMENT
- As a long-term member staying in recovery has not always come easy. Many other outside issues may have had to be addressed before one becomes well enough to be of much service to OA other than starting meetings and being responsible to keep the doors open. The anonymity of individuals needs to be maintained, but there are concerns about upcoming group conscience meeting. There are people who claim to be abstinent sponsors and we should never question anyone who says they are abstinent, that is between them and their HP and sponsor. However, it was stated to only allow Sponsors to vote at group business meetings. It has even gone as far as to question a person chairing the meeting and challenging their qualifications as a sponsor. The member’s abstinence was questioned and members were asked to prove they were qualified to chair the meeting. Another member, who had released over 100 pounds, was asked about their abstinence because they had gained a small amount of weight. This was of great concern. If the Traditions are not adhered to, meetings will close. Newcomers have come in and left again. Our decease is a life or death matter to me. It would be a shame that, due to a small majority, the meetings would be ruined for many and would not be there for the ones to come. Most of all OA deserves to be represented better. No one is the OA Police. We all know rule 62 “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.” We also know God is in control and we are not it. Is there something we can do to change this?
- I agree with you that the proposed policy changes that are being suggested are concerning.
Tradition two in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous states:
“In order to reach an informed group conscience, we affirm each group member’s right to take part in the discussions, and we listen to everyone attentively with open minds. The purpose of our discussions is to make sure that the decision reached by the group takes into account all pertinent information. If we are to reach an informed decision, the group will need to take into account everybody’s needs and ideas. For this reason, OA groups give all viewpoints a full hearing— even minority viewpoints.
Nobody who considers herself or himself a group member is excluded from speaking or voting. Since, according to the third OA tradition, “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively,” most OA groups do not place abstinence or other requirements on voting rights. How can we trust our group decisions if we allow people to vote who are eating compulsively and might not be clear- headed? This is certainly a danger, but it must be weighed against the need to keep OA open to all who want what our Fellowship has to offer. To exclude some from speaking or voting on decisions for the group denies them effective membership in the group – membership which can be essential to recovery from our “disease of isolation.”
Tradition three states that the only requirement for OA membership is the desire to stop eating compulsively. Overeaters Anonymous Bylaws Subpart B, Article V—Overeaters Anonymous Groups, Section 1, 3) states, “No member is required to practice any actions to remain a member or have a voice (share at a meeting).”
No one can be denied the right to share in an OA meeting for any reason (including whether they are abstinent or not). Telling a member that they do not have a voice in their group conscious meetings is the same as not allowing them a voice in the meeting itself.
“Anonymity” in The Tools of Recovery on oa.org states in part, “Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be held in respect and confidence.”
Part of that “respect and confidence” would mean that a person’s sponsor would not reveal to other OA members the state of that person’s abstinence.
There is one statement that appears on the Trustee Application: “Each person shall be the judge of his or her recovery including abstinence and maintenance of a healthy body weight.”
Concept four states, “The right of participation ensures equality of opportunity for all in the decision-making process.”
Concept twelve states, “The spiritual foundation for OA service ensures that:
(a) No OA committee or service body shall ever become the seat of perilous wealth or power;
(b) No OA member shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority; (Allowing only sponsors to vote would be putting the sponsors in a position of power—Concept 12a—and unqualified authority—Concept 12b.)
(c) All important decisions shall be reached by discussion, vote and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; (This concept cannot be honored if a group of OA members are not allowed the right to discuss and vote in their group.)
(d) No service action shall ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy; and (publicly challenging a person’s abstinence could be considered “punitive”).
(e) No OA service committee or service board shall ever perform any acts of government, and each shall always remain democratic in thought and action.”
- I have a concern about the OA meeting I attend. The meetings are not following the guidelines that OA has set up for us. At times certain foods and desserts are mentioned several times! I’m concerned enough to know that I had to say something to somebody about it. I am fairly new to the program, but this does not seem right.
- Overeaters Anonymous has no specific guideline about mentioning foods at meetings. Tradition Four gives each group the freedom to decide this issue for itself.
Some groups believe that members may feel more “triggered” when someone is trying to avoid mentioning a specific food by talking around it. This often leads to the distraction of trying to figure out what binge food they’re talking about.
In my home group, foods may be mentioned in passing but we avoid “romancing” the food. This is what I personally prefer. I feel a bit frustrated in meetings where specific foods cannot be mentioned. Food is my problem and I need to be free to talk about it.
Another view is that OA should be a safe place where food is never mentioned by name because a member may be triggered.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way. Only what the members of the group decide is best for the group.
The unity (Tradition One) of the group is important. If the meeting feels more unified by not mentioning specific foods the group conscience can put a statement in the meeting format. If the unity of the group is best served by allowing each member to choose whether or not to mention a specific food, then the group conscience of that meeting can decide to add that different wording to its meeting format.
If you or others in your group are concerned about this, ask the group to discuss the issue during a group conscience meeting.
- I am in my third month of abstinence at a newly formed meeting. I have approx. 7 years prior experience beginning in another area in the 1970s. My issue is that the person who started the meeting inserted a condition for sharing into the format without group conscience. That is “please refrain from mentioning names of foods or names of restaurants as that might “trigger” another member to eat.” I don’t believe it is possible to make another person eat or not eat, according to step 1. I feel I need to tell my story honestly for myself & the newcomer. What is OA’s stance on this question about discussion?
- Each meeting in Overeaters Anonymous is autonomous which means they can make suggestions for their meetings that are not necessarily followed by OA as a whole. I have heard it in meetings, not to mention food or only bring in water to the meetings.
What I would suggest is that you ask for a group conscience at this meeting about that statement.
- I would like to know if you have the abstinence requirement for a position in a meeting or in intergroup, do you give up the position if you happen to lose your abstinence while serving in that position?
- Abstinence requirements to do service at intergroup or in a meeting are determined by the intergroup/ group. It would also be up to the group conscience if you have to step down from that position if you lose your abstinence. At the intergroup in my area the abstinence requirements to serve are six months. If someone no longer meets that requirement they do step down.
ABSTINENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR SPEAKERS
- Should a speaker be abstinent before sharing their story with the group? At our business meeting this week, it was suggested that we drop the abstinence requirement from 90 days to none. It was suggested because there have been a few speakers who admitted not to be abstinent. There seem to be very members with continuous abstinence. Thanks for your help in advance.
- A. If it is a speaker meeting, the group can decide among its members if they want to have an abstinence requirement for speakers. If it is a general group meeting where literature is read and discussed, there shouldn’t be an abstinence requirement in order to share. Please refer to the suggested meeting format on our website under group support at oa.org/pdfs/suggested_meeting_format.pdf
Requirements for leading a meeting or being a speaker are a matter of group conscience. Groups are autonomous, (Tradition Four) and OA as a whole has no position on requirements for the positions in a group. Ask your meeting to have a group conscience about this matter if they haven’t already done so.
It is OK to have requirements for various positions in the group including speakers, as long as there is no requirement to be a member. (Tradition Three, the only requirement for OA membership is the desire to stop eating compulsively.)
I’m not sure if the speaker meeting you asked about is a “group” meeting or a large recovery event sponsored by an intergroup. For larger events it may be appropriate to have an abstinence requirement, but it is still a matter of group conscience.
Another thing the group can do is to encourage people with long term recovery to identify as such when sharing in order to encourage new comers or struggling members. I don’t consider this bragging; I consider it as giving hope.
ABSTINENCE – FASTING
- I am an OA member over a year of abstinence. I am also a member of a religious group which sometimes practices short complete fasts (water only, usually 1-3 days). I have not wanted to risk taking part in any fasts for fear they would upset my abstinence. I would be interested in OA members’ experience with religious fasting. Thank you for all you do.
- I also am a member of a religious faith that practices short fasts.
When I first came into OA, my sponsor and I discussed fasting and how it related with my plan of eating and abstinence.
We came to several mutual decisions.
- That I would make my plan of eating for breaking my fast before I began fasting.
- That I would not plan extra food for after the fast to “make up” for not eating.
- That if fasting became a “trigger” for me in any way, I would not participate in the fast. My recovery is more important to me than fasting and if I have to choose between the two, I will choose recovery.
I made a few discoveries. One was that I stopped being hungry while fasting and had a difficult time beginning to eat when the fast was over. I was strongly tempted to prolong my fast as a result. I had to commit to when I would break my fast. Once I began eating, however, I became VERY hungry and stayed hungry for several days’ despite eating appropriately. I was strongly tempted to eat more food as a result. I had to commit to staying with my plan of eating despite being hungrier.
I stayed in close communication with my sponsor and was able to fast while maintaining my abstinence and staying with my plan of eating.
There is no reason that fasting cannot be a part of a plan of eating. We just need to keep in mind that each person is different and while one person may be able to fast successfully, another may not.
In the pamphlet “Tools of Recovery” it states in part on pages 1-2:
A Plan of Eating
As a tool, a plan of eating helps us abstain from compulsive eating, guides us in our dietary decisions, and defines what, when how, where and why we eat.
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. … Each of us develops a personal plan of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her past experience. Many of us find it essential to take guidance from our sponsors to develop a plan of eating that reflects an honest desire to achieve and maintain abstinence.
Although individual plans of eating are as varied as our members, most OA members agree that some plan—no matter how flexible or structured—is necessary.
ANOREXIA MEETINGS AND PODCASTS
- Does your organization work as well for underweight participants as overweight participants? Are there any podcasts I could listen to that would be more geared toward that? Maybe telephone or online meetings?
- Thank you for your inquiry. The answer to your question is a resounding YES! OA offers hope to members with many different eating disorders.
In OA we believe that compulsive eating and obsession with food, binge eating, diet, and body weight, including bulimia or purging and anorexia, are all symptoms of the disease of addiction. In other words, we are addicted to food. Some of us binge on particular foods while others binge on all foods or just graze during the day. Starving, extreme exercise, obsession with body image, and extreme and constant dieting are all aspects of the disease.
OA is a Twelve-Step program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. The substance in our case is food, and the behaviors connected with compulsive eating. The symptoms are many. We have no diets or weigh-ins. The ONLY requirement for joining OA is the desire to stop eating compulsively. When newcomers arrive at OA, we may recommend that they consult with a dietitian, nutritionist, or medical professional to develop a plan of eating appropriate for their nutritional needs.
You asked specifically about podcasts and telephone meetings and I was able to find four telephone meetings with an Anorexia/Bulimia listed as a special focus. For you to find these same meetings simply go to the Find-A-Meeting page on oa.org. Set your local time zone, click on Advanced Search, then click on the Special Focus bar and select Anorexia/Bulimia from the list. When you click on Search you will get the same list of meetings that I did.
Unfortunately, OA World Service does not have any podcasts on this subject. However, I encourage you to listen to any of the podcasts on oa.org because the disease is what we have in common. The symptoms may be different, but the support and solution we offer works for all who want to stop the compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors,
ABSTINENCE AND SPONSORSHIP
- To be considered abstinent must I have a sponcer?
- No, having a sponsor is not required for being abstinent.
The definition of abstinence, according to the group conscience of OA as a whole, is quoted here:
“Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous 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 the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”
Sponsorship is not mentioned in this definition. However, having a sponsor is a good idea, especially in the beginning.
Q. My first two sponsors were very rigid and this does not work for me. It was very hard to please them with my 4th Step. How do I find a sponsor I can work with?
A. I am so sorry that you had such trouble with your first two sponsors.
There are as many types of sponsorship styles as there are different types of people. It is unfortunate that both these people appear to be very strict in their styles and the communication wasn’t good. It appears that a different sponsor would be better for you.
I have heard it said that finding a sponsor is like trying on a pair of shoes. They may look like a nice pair of shoes on the shelf but when we try them on they don’t fit. It is important that a sponsor and sponsee can work well together otherwise neither person benefits from the relationship. It is your program and your recovery and if you have trouble working with a sponsor it is OK for you to find someone else, otherwise your recovery suffers. You both need to be able to work together, otherwise you are both wasting each other’s time.
The Fourth Step can be very difficult for many reasons. I can understand why you misplaced your list the first time. I also lost my list twice. I hid it so well I forgot where I put it. We are supposed to be “fearless and thorough” with our inventory, otherwise we risk getting back into the food. But I don’t think there are any rules about how long this list needs to be. Everyone is different and this list can change with time.
I would highly encourage you to look for another sponsor, someone who you are comfortable with and who you can both communicate honestly. You might even consider a “temporary” sponsorship where the two of you agree to try it for 30 days and if it doesn’t work either is free to say so. It can be very difficult finding a sponsor. But I would encourage you to keep looking and don’t give up. I think a sponsor is essential to our recovery. We were never meant to work this program alone.
You might consider coming to the Region Convention. There are many OA members there and it will be an excellent way to meet possible sponsors.
Sponsorship and a Plan of Eating
Q. I had a sponsor who told me that my plan of eating wasn’t what I should be doing. She wanted me to do what she and all her other sponcees are doing. But my plan of eating had been working for me and was what my doctor recommended. I dropped out of program because of this. She is very much admired in our OA community and I am embarrassed to go back. What should I do?
A. My suggestion would be to go back to OA and get a different sponsor. I also think if your plan of eating is working for you and recommended by your doctor that I would stick with it. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I personally sponsor six people and they each follow a different plan of eating.
I realize it can be hard to go back but this program works. I know for me, OA is the solution to my problem of compulsive eating and I need to attend meetings because I can’t do it alone. Pray about it. Try going on some phone meetings. Phone meetings are a great place to get a sponsor.
Q. I have only been to one OA meeting but I have been listening to podcasts and I started my steps. I am 100% sure that OA is for me and that I don’t want to go too far into it without a sponsor.I was wondering if possibly anyone I would consider being a sponsor from a long distance.
A. Yes, certainly there are many sponsor/sponsee pairs that are far apart. With phones, “Face-time”, Skype and other electronic means, sponsoring by long distance is very common.
If you haven’t already found a sponsor, you can go to your Region website at and see if they offer virtual sponsor connection. Many do. Your Intergroup may also be able to help you find a sponsor.
Sponsor with Inappropriate Behavior
Q. What do we do when a sponsor is gay, keeps it secret and supports members of the same sex? (It has been noted that this person had entered into sexual relationships with members of the fellowship.)
A. This is indeed an unfortunate situation. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is one based on trust and many of us never trusted anyone until we found a sponsor.
I would start by treating this like a disruptive member. I would try to find out if the alleged sponsor has a sponsor and ask them to speak with him or her.
If the person does not have a sponsor, I would ask a long time experienced member from the same home group, someone that the “sponsor” respects to have a one-on-one discussion. Doing this face to face would be preferable in a public place so that there is an escape route. But if this is too threatening, consider a phone call.
If this fails, I would have a meeting after the meeting two on one to discuss that this is inappropriate.
Still no success, contact the intergroup. A group conscience may be appropriate bringing members from the intergroup in to help. If this doesn’t work contact your Trustee.
Sponsors: How to Find One
Q. I need a Food Sponsor and I have no clue how to find one. I thought there was a link to a list somewhere in this website but I think I am wrong. I am a compulsive Overeater and Bulimic who has finally figured out that recovery isn’t something I can do alone.
A. I am glad you are looking for a sponsor. Having and working with a sponsor is one of the most important things you can do to achieve and improve your recovery. You are correct. There is no link on the OA website for finding a sponsor. The first thing I would do is go to a face to face OA meeting and look for a sponsor there. If you haven’t been to an OA meeting the best way to find one is go to www.oa.org, look for the tab about finding a meeting, and enter your city and state and hopefully there will be a meeting nearby that you can attend. Most meetings, during the opening, will ask sponsors to identify themselves or their names may be on the meeting list with phone numbers. Sponsors are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They are willing to share their recovery with other members of the Fellowship and are committed to abstinence. A “food sponsor” is someone who you call to let them know what you plan to eat and what you have eaten. Some people have a “Step sponsor” and a “Food Sponsor”. A “Step sponsor” is someone who helps you work the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous. I personally have one sponsor who helps me do both. I feel that these two areas are related and it is more helpful for me if my sponsor can work with me in both areas. When people share at the meeting, look for someone who has what you want. Afterwards you can ask them to sponsor you or you can call them to help you decide if you feel you can work together. If you don’t find someone you are comfortable with at the meeting, go to another meeting and keep looking. You can also share that you are looking for a sponsor and someone may volunteer to help you look or may be willing to be your temporary sponsor.
You might ask if the group has an online or print newsletter. Most meetings are affiliated with an Intergroup who publish a newsletter. Many newsletters have names of sponsors that you can contact. The intergroups are affiliated with Regions who also may have sponsorship connection on their web site.
Finding a Sponsor
Q. This past week I came back to OA after not attending meetings for over 4 years. I never worked the steps (past 3) and never had a sponsor. I have been at 2 meetings so far this week and no one has raised their hand as a sponsor. Should I just keep going until I eventually find someone that can be a sponsor and that I feel good about? Not sure what to do. Any suggestions?
A. You might consider going to Intergroup events or Conventions. There will be many OA members there and it will be an excellent way to meet possible sponsors. Many OA region websites also offer Virtual Sponsorship connections. Let it be known at your meetings (in person or phone meetings) that you are looking for a sponsor.
We encourage you to keep looking and don’t give up. We think a sponsor is essential to our recovery. We were never meant to work this program alone.