What if I struggle?

The good news? No one fails in OA. As long as you’re willing to keep seeking help from others and work your program, recovery is possible.

To get ahead of relapse, here are some common symptoms leading to one:

  • Argumentative
  • Cockiness
  • Complacency
  • Defiance
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Dishonest
  • Eating my binge foods
  • Exhaustion
  • Expecting too much from others
  • Forgetting gratitude
  • Frustration
  • Grief
  • Impatience
  • “It can’t happen to me”
  • Letting up on disciplines
  • Self-pity
  • Use of mood-altering chemicals
  • Wanting too much

We are in recovery together and live it through abstinence and working the twelve steps by:

  • being continuously abstinent;
  • giving service, sponsorship and support;
  • encouraging members to keep coming back; and
  • attending meetings and OA events.

(Twelve Step-Within Handbook, p. 22)

Relapse Stepping-Stones

“A list came across my desk, describing what I would call stepping-stones to relapse. Since my abstinence has been good for almost four years, I didn’t give the list much thought. I have been so busy being busy, I considered myself safe from the harm of slipping and eventual relapse. Among the stepping-stones were some character defects to which I could relate: exhaustion, dishonesty, impatience, argumentativeness, depression, frustration, self-pity, cockiness, complacency, too high expectations of others, lax discipline , use of mood altering chemicals, too many wants, loss of gratitude, unrealistic “it can’t happen to me” thinking, and omnipotence…

Wow! What a list. I’m a lifelong compulsive overeater who has used every one of these excuses for not working my program. If I were to address these stepping-stones, I would say, “Oh, I’m exhausted from the service I do. I deserve a treat.” But am I exhausted or just feeling sorry for myself, i.e. self-pity and unappreciated? Is this what’s really going on, or am I being dishonest or impatient, not taking the time to pray and meditate? I would rather be argumentative. Having been in program for a long time, I realize this thinking frustrates me. Frustration often leads to depression because I want things to go my way and don’t want to feel like I’m not okay. Inevitably, my alter ego steps in thinking she will save the day. I get cocky and think I know better than others. I can slip into being judgmental. I become complacent and begin letting up on disciplines that remind me to take care of the weeds in my own garden and not worry about others’ gardens. Prayer and meditation go out the window. Before I know it, I am looking for mental and physical diversions to keep the focus off myself.

When I’m not keeping the focus on myself, I am at risk of becoming judgmental and expecting too much from others. My priorities become askew, and I think how nice some junk food would taste. Luckily my Higher Power steps in and reminds me how these mood-altering treats have sent me on a path of no return, where a slip would become a relapse. I’ve been there and done that, when I want too much but am unwilling to put the effort into working for the peace and serenity abstinence has always given me.

So as I ruminate on my life’s landscape, I remember the “sunlight of the spirit” and my gratitude for the gifts OA has given me. Most important, I must remember that slips and relapse are more likely when I sport the attitude that it can’t happen to me. I am not omnipotent. Only God is. I have a Higher Power, but I am not my Higher Power. So as long as I practice the OA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and do service to the best of my ability, I will have the strength and courage to walk the path and avoid the stepping-stones to relapse.”

Taste of Lifeline pp. 134-136

The solution to freedom from compulsive eating is the Twelve Steps

Other info to prevent relapse


  • Been Slipping and Sliding? A Reading and Writing Tool
  • From Slip or Relapse to Recovery
  • Fun and Fellowship
  • Strong Abstinence Checklist
  • The Simplicity Project


  • Welcome Back
  • Recovery Checklist
  • A Lifetime of Abstinence
  • A New Plan of Eating
  • The Tools of Recovery       
  • Welcome Back, We Care packet (includes many of these items)
  • Think First
  • Just For Today


  • The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition
  • Twelve Step Workshop and Study Guide, Second Edition
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book)
  • A New Beginning: Stories of Recovery from Relapse – Available in e-book formats only


  • The importance of Working all Twelve Steps Series
  • Relapse Survivor and 90 Day Program (2017 Forum Series)