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AEA: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What can I do if I am worried about my eating?


Ask for help. Whatever your problem with food, Addictive Eaters Anonymous can help.


2. What is Addictive Eaters Anonymous?

Addictive Eaters Anonymous is a Twelve Step fellowship based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Through working the AEA Twelve Step Programme, members have found several decades of recovery from binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, other forms of addictive eating and compulsive exercise. 


3. What happens at AEA meetings?

An AEA meeting may take many different forms. Generally, you will find addictive eaters talking about their powerlessness over food and other substances and the unmanageability of their lives, what actions they have taken to help them find freedom from this, and how they are living their lives today. Going to a meeting does not ‘commit’ you to anything, you are free to come and go as you choose.


4. How do I join AEA?


The only requirement for AEA membership is a desire to stop eating addictively. So, you’re a member of AEA if you say you are. You don’t have to identify as a member to attend AEA meetings. You can come along and see if AEA is for you.


5. How much does it cost to join AEA?


There are no dues or fees for joining AEA or attending AEA meetings. We are self-supporting through our own voluntary contributions. At some point during each meeting we pass the basket to help cover expenses, such as the cost of rent and literature. Members are not obliged to contribute, but we usually do so to the extent we are able.


6. Is AEA religious?


AEA is not a religious organisation, nor is it affiliated to one. AEA has members of different faiths or with no faith at all. We have found, however, that we need a Power greater than ourselves to become sober, as we had repeatedly failed to achieve this on our own unaided will. How individual members choose to define their Higher Power is entirely up to them. For some it is their AEA group, for others it is the Spirit of the Universe, for some the collective human consciousness, and for others a more traditional religious God.


7. I’m anorexic/bulimic, will AEA work for me?

AEA has members who have recovered from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Many have been underweight, overweight or obese; others were people of average weight yet suffered with an obsession with food. Members may have used exercise and other substances to try and control their weight. Before coming to AEA, members found that they were powerless over food, and unable to stop the food obsession, whatever its manifestations.


8. Can family, friends or concerned healthcare professionals attend AEA meetings?


AEA meetings are open to anyone with an interest in the disease of addiction. This includes family members, friends or partners of addictive eaters and healthcare professionals.


9. What suggestions do you give newcomers to AEA?


Go to Meetings: Meetings offer newcomers the opportunity to get to know other AEA members and see that there is a solution to the food obsession. 


Get a Sponsor: A sponsor is a sober member of AEA who shares their experience, strength, and hope with a sponsee that they may achieve sobriety. 


Work The Twelve Steps: The aim of working the steps is for AEA members to have a spiritual awakening, freeing them from addictive eating and the obsession with food. Working the steps is best done with the guidance of a sponsor.


Keep regular contact with sober AEA members: By listening to sober members share how they overcome their problems by living the programme as a way of life, newcomers learn how to do the same.


10. I’m still bingeing/purging, can I attend AEA meetings?


Yes. The only requirement for AEA membership is a desire to stop eating addictively, you do not have to be symptom-free to attend AEA meetings. 


11. How did AEA start?


AEA was established in Christchurch, New Zealand by a group of men and women, who have been recovering from addictive eating for many years through the Twelve Step recovery programme. AEA now has meetings throughout the world.


12. What if there are no meetings near where I live?


Many AEA members find attendance at open or closed meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, whichever is appropriate, to be helpful to their recovery, especially in areas where there are no AEA meetings. AEA also hosts weekly online meetings and a monthly online web event, which enable members to carry the message to one another around the world. This is particularly helpful to members who live in areas where they are a sole member or where there are very few members. We also have an extensive network of members willing to share their experience, strength and hope with you on the phone.


13. How do I contact AEA?


Email or phone your local contact on the contact page.

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