Below are some frequently asked questions you may find helpful as a newcomer to Overeaters Anonymous or as an OA who has never attended a Big Book Step Study meeting. If your question is not answered below, feel free to email us.
Do I need OA?
Compulsive eating is a self-diagnosed disease. The Big Book suggests two questions that helped us determine for ourselves whether we ate compulsively.
1.) If when we honestly wanted to, could we stop our compulsive eating behaviors entirely?
2.) Did we have little control over our behavior around food?
If we answered yes to either of these (whether out loud, in our minds, or in our hearts), we were Overeaters Anonymous members in the making. Listen to the recordings here, and if you identify with the speakers’ stories and find hope in them, you may want to visit an OA meeting in person, by telephone, or online.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. There are no dues, fees, or weigh-ins.
What is Big Book Step Study?
Big Book Step Study (BBSS) is a format of meeting that helps members achieve abstinence by working the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous. BBSS groups work the steps exactly as they are laid out in AA’s Big Book, changing only the words alcohol and alcoholic to their equivalents for compulsive eating.
For more information visit BigBookStepStudy.com.
What are the 12 Steps?
The 12 Steps are a structured pathway to recovery from addiction. They came from the experiences of the first 100 alcoholics who found sobriety in AA. They were first written down in the late 1930s by Bill Wilson co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and published in Alcoholics Anonymous, aka: The Big Book. The Big Book, therefore, is the text book on how to recover—and it works as well for other addictions as it does for alcoholism.
In OA we substitute for alcohol and alcoholics whatever eating-based terms describe our individual illnesses (compulsive eater, food addict, binge eater, anorexic, bulimic, etc.). These are The 12 Steps as adapted for Overeaters Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive eaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Why should I do the 12 Steps exactly as they are laid out in the Big Book? Aren’t there other ways?
There are other ways that work for many people. We’ve found that doing the Steps exactly as they are laid out in the Big Book was the best way for us; that when we did it other ways, we didn’t get the recovery we wanted.
What will happen if I do the 12 Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book?
More is revealed to us as we work the 12 Steps. But the Big Book famously makes these promises, which BBSS members find come true for them:
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
How do I get a Big Book?
Many OA meetings have Big Books for sale or for free. The Big Book can generally be found at your local bookstore or at your favorite online retailer. You can also read it online.
How do I get started in the Big Book Step Study process?
Attend a BBSS meeting and ask a member who has completed the process to sponsor you.
What is a sponsor?
In BBSS, a sponsor is someone with experience working the Steps and who was guided through the Steps by a BBSS sponsor themselves. Now their job is to guide someone else through them. You’ll know who they are because at the end of most BBSS meetings, available sponsors are asked to raise their hands.
Can I attend the York Big Book Step Study?
Yes. The York Big Book Step Study is an open meeting of OA—that means everyone is welcome to attend.
York Big Book Step Study
Monday Nights, 7:00–8:30PM
York Hospital, Medical Office Building
16 Hospital Drive, York, ME
If you’d like more information about this meeting, please send an email.
Are there other OA Big Book Step Study Meetings?
What other Big Book Step Study resources are available online?
Check out the links in the blogroll section of this site. And feel free to suggest a link.