When you arrive at an OA meeting, you will find men and women who have problems with food. Meetings vary in size. You may see anywhere from two or three people to 30 or more at the meeting; they may range in size from decidedly overweight to unhealthily underweight, with many members looking quite “normal” in size. Regardless of your size or your particular problem with food, you are welcome.
Meetings in our area usually last for one hour.
You will have an opportunity to introduce yourself as a newcomer, if you like. Because anonymity is a critical principle of the OA program, members use first names only, and you are assured that what you share will be held in confidence. This provides the safety you need to share your experiences honestly. Generally, newcomer questions are not addressed during the meeting, but members will talk to you afterwards.
Meeting formats vary from meeting to meeting. Usually, one member “leads” the meeting. He or she may talk briefly about what life was like before OA, what happened, and what he or she is like now. Members might read from the OA literature. Other members may share their experience, strength, and hope.
A list is usually passed around for members to sign their names and phone numbers, so people can offer each other support between meetings. This is OPTIONAL. It gives members (and you) the opportunity to get phone numbers and email addresses to reach out to others. The phone and email are important in OA for getting and giving support as well as reminding you that you are not alone.
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. Members contribute what they wish to support the program. As a newcomer, you do not need to contribute.
The meeting usually ends with the Serenity Prayer or other reading. If you find that the meeting you attended does not feel right, try a different one at another time and location. It is a good idea to attend at least six meetings to learn the many ways OA can help you.
What you WON’T find at OA meetings are:
- diets and pills
- packaged meals
- dues or fees
- “shoulds,” “musts,” or judgments.
What you WILL find at meetings is:
- Acceptance of you – as you are now, as you were, as you will be.
- Understanding of the problems you now face – problems almost certainly shared by others in the group.
- Deeper communication coming as the natural result of our mutual understanding and acceptance.
- Recovery from your illness.
- Ability to live in a new way through the acceptance and understanding of yourself, the practice of the Twelve-Step recovery program, the belief in a power greater than yourself, and the support and companionship of the group.
Don’t worry about understanding everything at your first meeting. Feel free to ask questions before and after the meeting, and pick up some OA literature such as the Newcomers Packet to help you learn about the program. Just keep coming back.
If you have questions and would like to speak to an OA member, call our local OA information line at 518-292-0666 and use option one to leave a message for a return call.