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Better Defined

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After reading about the new definitions for “abstinence” and “recovery” approved by the World Service Business Conference 2019, I had a couple of questions: 1) What were the original definitions? 2) What were the reasons for changing the definitions?

The 1988 WSBC approved this first Statement on Abstinence and Recovery:

“According to the dictionary, the word ‘abstain’ means to refrain from. Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating.

“Recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”

In 2002, this statement was changed to:

“According to the dictionary, the word ‘abstain’ means to refrain from. Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating.

“Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”

In 2009, the statement was again changed to:

“Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors.

“Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.” In 2011, the statement was: “Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. “Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”

The 2019 World Service Business Conference approved the most recent change:

“The WSBC 2019 accepts the following definitions:

  • Abstinence: The act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Recovery: Removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors.

“Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program.”

As for the second question, I believe the intention is to improve the definition so members and newcomers better understand our message and the desired goal when we speak of being abstinent.

— Members of the Board of Trustees provide answers to these questions

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