Q: If a member refuses to introduce him or herself as a compulsive overeater but simply as an “overeater,” can he or she take on service positions? Does it make a difference if the member has a sponsor and says he or she is working the Steps?
A: Members may call themselves whatever they want. Over the years I have heard many variations in OA meetings— compulsive overeater, compulsive undereater, compulsive over-exerciser, grateful, sugar addict, carbohydrate addict, food addict, recovered bulimic, restrictor, anorexic, you name it. As Tradition Three says, “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.”
For service positions, the requirements for each position are up to the group conscience. Usually the requirements are based on time in the program and period of abstinence. Willingness to serve also helps. To encourage service, it is good to have positions with little or no requirements, such as setting up chairs. In accordance with Tradition Four, the requirements for a position can vary widely from group to group.
If a member has a sponsor, is working the Steps, and is willing to do service, then the member and the group are very fortunate when there is a service position to be filled. Since service is a Tool that enhances our program of recovery on all levels for OA as a whole, it seems wise to create as few barriers as possible to doing service. From group experience it usually becomes clear what each position requires.
The OA Handbook for Members, Groups and Service Bodies: Recovery Opportunities has many wonderful suggestions. For instance, under the heading “What Are Some Good Qualifications for Service Volunteers?” it is stated, “Experience has shown that giving members a job solely to help them maintain abstinence does not work; instead the group’s welfare should be of primary concern in choosing members to fill the service positions. A review of Traditions One and Two is helpful at election time.
“Service volunteers should fully realize that giving service to a group may sometimes involve doing tasks whether they feel like it or not” (pp. 16-17).
You may want to get a copy of this useful pamphlet for your group. It is available for purchase on oa.org in the bookstore.
— Members of the Board of Trustees provide answers to Ask-It Basket questions
Ask-It Basket Archive
Click on the link below to see an archive of previous Ask-It Basket questions and answers. Remember that these answers are the opinions of individual members of the Board of Trustees and others may have different opinions. It’s a good idea to read other OA materials that address an issue and ask around in meetings for more opinions. Also keep in mind that circumstances change and opinions are refined over time. Ask-It Basket Archive