OA & AA – Similarities Greater Than The Differences

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I listen to a recovery podcast most days when either riding my bike or driving to or from work.  A while ago the site I usually download AA speaker leads from had not updated in a while, so I searched the iTunes library for some other options. I came across Overeaters Anonymous leads.  I have never gone to an OA meeting, but believe that like with alcohol, I need to maintain my awareness of my addiction as a compulsive overeater to stay in recovery.  When I listened to the first OA lead I was blown away. Being a good compulsive addict, I immediately downloaded the other 96 leads on the site.

Here are some of the things that have rambled through my head, triggered by the OA leads I have listened to. First, I am impressed with the frequency of speakers with OA recovery who have been sober in AA even a longer time. This matches my experiences with nicotine and food addictions.

I am also struck at the commonalities in their stories and my own. The OA leads speak about food addiction in the same way they speak of alcohol addictions. The similarity causes me to reflect on my own early recollections of food addiction I had never considered before.

For a long time I have vividly recollected my first drink and early drinking experiences. Triggered by the OA speakers, I recollected those same experiences with food. Before the age of 10 I would secretly go to the canister of sugar in a dark kitchen and eat scoop after scoop of sugar. At dinner, the standard portion of fried chicken per person was one piece. However, I early claimed the backs, the neck, the gizzard, and the liver – parts no one else in the family wanted. I considered this a great deal – it seemed irrelevant the cut of meat, rather the quantity, and the greasy breading and skin. I thoroughly enjoyed the rare visits to my Great Aunt’s house because she provided an endless amount of candy and snacks not permitted at home. In grade school, I shoplifted regularly but for only two things – early on candy, later pints of Thunderbird and MD 20-20.

In OA leads I realized that the 12 steps do not tell us to cease our addiction. In Step One we admit the powerlessness over our addiction. It seems that the next step should be to stop using our addictive substance, but it’s not. Rather, we come to believe that a higher power is the solution to our living problem.  In No step does it say we stop drinking/smoking/gambling/eating compulsively/purging or whatever.

That is a key to me, that becomes more clear through time. If we follow the steps, if we come to believe, turn it over, inventory our lives, share that inventory, make amends, continue that process, strive for a spiritual plane, and share recovery – that these actions are simply incompatible with actively practicing our addictions. We don’t really need to be told to put the plug in jug, or whatever, if we follow the steps, we simply cannot live into the physical practice of our addictions.

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