Relapse & Recovery (12 Steps Within)


Relapse is a condition where a compulsive overeater returns to destructive eating habits after a period of abstinence as defined by the individual. Relapse is experienced to some degree by many OAs.

On a physical level, it can take the form of binge eating, eating foods which trigger the binge cycle, binging and vomiting, or fasting, starvation, compulsive exercising, and use of chemical substance to rid the body of excess food.

On an emotional level it can include returning to former negative, destructive attitudes and behaviors, the loss of faith in a power greater than the self and the reappearance of character defects that dominate the individual’s behavior.

Relapse often begins with the assumption that one is normal, cured, and no longer in need of the practices and knowledge that were gained in the 12 steps of the program. This may not manifest itself on a conscious level, but some of the first portents of danger are:

  • Using or avoiding food to smother feelings.
  • Avoiding meetings and other OAs.
  • Irritation with the program principles and tools.
  • Using the scale, clothes size, etc. as a measure of recovery.
  • The feeling of “not belonging” in OA.
  • Making excuses for negative behavior and denial of obvious changes in body size, i.e., “it shrank at the cleaners: it’s just water weight: the scale’s broken” (even at the doctor’s office), etc.
  • A feeling of mastery over self and superiority over others.

These are just some of the initial signs that the recovering compulsive overeater is on the verge of relapse. If you see yourself engaging in these attitudes or behaviors, we urge you to keep coming back to meetings to talk and to listen to others who share the same feelings. The pain of relapse is greatest in isolation and in the fear of discovering that we are not perfect. For many of us, it is also the most powerful, enduring learning experience of our recovery. One day at a time, we find our way home – Together.

12th Step Within Meetings There are two local meetings for people in relapse. See the weekly Sunday10 AM Meeting (Santa Clara). and the Thursday 7:30PM meeting in Saratoga.