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Why Addictive Eaters Anonymous Uses Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Literature

Members of Addictive Eaters Anonymous (AEA) use Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) literature, in particular the texts Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, as they have found the spiritual solution contained in the literature is as effective for addictive eating as it is for alcoholism. It is the collective experience of AEA that the straightforward message of ‘trust God, clean house, help others’ is most clearly presented and explained in the original writings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the application of this message is essential to finding and maintaining sobriety.

This can seem a little confusing to newcomers, who believe that they only have a problem with food. They do not understand why it is being suggested they read a book they believe to be for alcoholics. It is our experience that the problem is not the substance; the problem is the disease of addiction. We have also found that the disease of addiction is not limited to any one substance and that to be sober we need to be free from all mind-altering substances.

Alcoholics Anonymous, written in 1939 and affectionately nicknamed The Big Book by early AA members, explains that alcohol is only a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. We of AEA see ourselves described in its pages. For us, the word ‘alcoholic’ may as well read ‘addictive eater’. We identify with the statement that “the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p. 23) and that “when the spiritual malady is overcome we straighten out mentally and physically” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p. 64). To overcome that “spiritual malady” it is our experience that it is best to approach The Big Book with the guidance of an AEA Sponsor, to help us through the Twelve Step Programme outlined in the text. At first the language of The Big Book can be a little daunting, and some of the concepts may seem radical, but we have found we need to let go of our old ideas and embrace a new way of thinking, if we are to get well. Many of us view The Big Book as our instruction manual, and have found it to be “a design for living that really works” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p. 28).

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, published in 1953 and nicknamed The Twelve and Twelve, expounds on the programme in more detail by devoting a chapter to each individual step and tradition. The Twelve Steps provide the basis for individual recovery, whereas the Twelve Traditions offer suggested guidance for the running of groups and the fellowship itself. Those of us coming to AEA from other Twelve Step fellowships may already be familiar with AA literature. While we may have had some knowledge of the texts, we found we still needed to connect with the true message of the literature: surrender. We were still trying to control our eating, and it is the collective experience of AEA that “we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 22). Those of us coming to AEA from other fellowships needed to approach the programme as newcomers. It is only from this position of humility that we become teachable.

Both The Big Book and The Twelve and Twelve have remained largely unaltered since they were first written. The reason for this is that the solution to the problem is timeless. By sticking closely to the original message of recovery, we of AEA are not only relieved from addictive eating and food obsession, we have found a life that is happy, joyous and free.

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Our primary purpose is to recover from addictive eating and help others to achieve sobriety.