*These definitions are MY UNDERSTANDING of recovery terms. They may be different than what you would find in a traditional dictionary and are meant to help you through this particular process of working the Steps. Take what you like and leave the rest!

action: execute a decision; something done; carry through; put into effect; carry out the task

allergy: an abnormal physical reaction; a disorder where a predictable and rapid reaction to a substance is acquired. 

abstinence:   in OA is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy weight

addiction: inability to leave a particular substance alone no matter how great the desire or necessity; dependence on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.

agnostic: not committed to believing in either the existence or the non-existence of God or a god (

ambition: a personal goal or desired achievement

atheist: someone who denies the existence of God.

Big Book:  Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition “Big Book” lays out the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and includes personal stories of those who found recovery in the program

character defects:  flaws/shortcomings/blockages/liabilities that keep a person from recovery; the four main character defects in the Big Book are selfishness, fear, dishonesty, and self-seeking 

decision: making up your mind about something.

denial- the failure to admit that one is addicted or to realize and accept the harm caused by the addiction.

desperate: moved by despair or utter loss of hope ((

dishonest: perpetrating deceit by lying,cheating, stealing, defrauding; denial; with-holding truth

fear: an unpleasant often strong emotion that creates a feeling of personal danger or possible harm.

food plan: typically defines what we eat, when, and how much.

Higher Power: “HP” a power greater than the individual, that can help the person overcome their addiction; central part of the 12 steps; AA literature states: “we could conceive of the Power in any terms we thought fit’.

hitting bottom: the last phase one experiences before entering recovery; it can be a high bottom or a low bottom; Recovery doesn’t usually occur until a person hits a personal bottom and has an awareness that addiction has taken over his or her life. It is based upon awareness and a willingness to let go of self-will.

humility: non-judgment of self and others; no better or worse than just human

meditation: listening to God; quiet contemplation leading to deep and real knowledge

obsession: an idea or thought that preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind  (; a thought that “wins out’ over all others 

phenomenon of craving: an overwhelming desire for more; physical craving (compulsion)

pocketbook: anything having to do with personal finances

prayer: talking to God; the act of communicating with God

pride: how one thinks other people see them

quiet time: time set aside to connect daily with a higher power/purpose; prayer, meditation, reflection

RECOVERY: Is defined in OA as the removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors; spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the 12 Step program

resentment: holding a grudge against someone or something for a real or imagined injustice; to “re-feel”

sanity: reasonable and rational behavior; one has the ability to see the truth

self-esteem: feeling of personal worth; positive or negative belief about oneself and one’s abilities

selfish: wanting one’s way regardless of the motive

self-seeking: the actions a person takes to get what they want; inconsiderate

self-will: stubbornness; wish to be in control of life and do things one’s own way; resolute adherence to your own ideas and desires

serenity: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled no matter what is happening in one’s life 

spiritual awakening:  a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery;  through an honest self-reflection, admitting defects of character and making amends, one will experience a new awareness of self, of life, of humility, or spiritual practices; “Ideas, emotions, and attitudes, which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men, are suddenly cast to one side and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them” (B.B. page 27)

spiritual condition: maintaining a strong spiritual connection to something greater than self

sponsor: a mentor in the 12 Step program; sponsorship strengthens the new- comer’s program as well as the sponsor’s program

surrender: to abandon oneself entirely; to acknowledge without reservation that one has an addiction and that help is needed; admission that willpower accomplished nothing

trigger food: binge foods/red-light foods/alcoholic foods; foods or food ingredients that create a physical craving (compulsion) for more; foods or food ingredients that the individual is not neutral around

white-knuckling:  the opposite of serenity; people who are ‘white knuckling’ their abstinence are typically irritable, restless, & discontent in their abstinence and having a very difficult time

willingness: readiness to recognize and seek help from a power greater than self; one must be whole-heartedly willing to change and to give up self-will and old ways of thinking and acting