On February 13th, I attended and overeaters anonymous meeting. I’ve never been to any type of support or 12 step meeting before, so I was not really sure what to expect. When I first arrived, there was a group of women waiting outside for the meeting to start. Once the meeting started, the person who chaired the meeting began. She started with an introduction of what Overeaters Anonymous was. She then had someone come up and read the 12 steps and 12 traditions. The leader of the meeting went on to share her story of how she used to be almost 300 pounds and her struggles of trying to lose weight with various diets and weight loss plans.
From there she talked about coming to Overeaters Anonymous. She then discussed how she now abstains from sugar and flour and because of that she has lost 70 pounds. She talked about getting support from “the big book” (Alcoholics Anonymous), and her sponsor and her higher power. She was able to be successful. I was a little bit disappointed she didn’t discuss how long she had abstained from flour and sugar or if she had ever had relapses where she ate those items. During the meeting one of the things that they discussed was the success rate of Overeaters Anonymous: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are those who cannot or will not give themselves completely to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way”. But according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, from The Harvard Medical School, stated quite plainly: “On their own There is a high rate of recovery among alcoholics and addicts, treated and untreated. According to one estimate, heroin addicts break the habit in an average of 11 years.
Another estimate is that at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated. One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated. When a group of these self-treated alcoholics was interviewed, 57% said they simply decided that alcohol was bad for them. Twenty-nine percent said health problems, frightening experiences, accidents, or blackouts persuaded them to quit. Others used such phrases as “Things were building up” or “I was sick and tired of it. Support from a husband or wife was important in sustaining the resolution” . Taking both sides into account makes me think that it is hard to say if programs like Overeaters Anonymous and other 12 step groups are effective. It is my personal opinion that someone can have many resources available to them such as Overeaters Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, sober living facilities, various rehabs, etc. but in the end, the person themself has to want to be sober/clean to be able to maintain that sobriety.
I think this meeting was a good experience for me because it gave me a chance to see what Overeaters Anonymous is about. I was a little bit nervous to attend the meeting because I didn’t know anything about the process. I didn’t know if it would be acceptable to the members of that meeting for me to attend and be there since I do not think I have those issues. I have to admit, I thought when I went to the meeting I would see a lot of overweight women. I was under the impression Overeaters Anonymous was for women who were overweight and for women who had little control over food.
Instead, while I was there I saw many women of various shapes and sizes, even some men too. I had this idea Overeaters Anonymous was for women who are very overweight, but while I was there I learned that Overeaters Anonymous was for women with various weight issues like Anorexia, Bulimia, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and any other person with an unhealthy relationship with food. Most of the women in the Overeaters Anonymous meeting were in the action and maintenance stage of their recovery. They had stopped overeating and committed to a change in their diet reflecting what they had learned from the meetings and, their sponsors.
I think by attending this meeting, it will help me keep an open mind when working with addicted clients. It will help me remember that addiction comes in all shapes, sizes, and genders. In conclusion, During the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, I learned that there are people of every shape, size, and gender. You do not have to be an overweight person to be considered an overeater. Another important thing I learned from the meeting is that food can be an addiction. The most important thing this assignment taught me is not to make assumptions about things based on their name.
I was a little disappointed to read the Alcoholics Anonymous “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are those who cannot or will not give themselves completely to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way”. I do not think it is as simple to just “follow their path”. I think that if someone is at the point of addiction they need to really want to become clean/ sober for any program to work.
- A. A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, page 58.
- Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction — Part III, The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 12, Number 4, October 1995, page 3.