Debtors Anonymous is a peer support program and organization for recovery from compulsive desires to incur unsecured debt, such as credit card debt. Debtors support groups that are organized by Debtors Anonymous (DA) use the 12-step system that was pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous during the late 1930s, and participation in these groups is confidential and free of charge.
What Is Debt Addiction?
Addiction to debt is considered a behavioral addiction, and peer support groups have shown promise in controlling this and similar addictions. Debtors Anonymous suggests that participants stop incurring any new debt even before they take the time to find Debtors Anonymous meetings in their area. Then, it advises new participants to attend at least six meetings to decide whether the DA approach is helpful to them.
If you or a loved one finds it hard to avoid adding to already high levels of debt, Debtors Anonymous may be able to help. “Not knowing your financial situation and constantly using one credit card to pay off another can be signs of compulsive debt addiction.”Not knowing your financial situation and constantly using one credit card to pay off another can be signs of compulsive debt addiction. According to the major credit rating bureau TransUnion Credit, credit card delinquencies rose 9.9% between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. However, not all overuse of credit cards is considered compulsive debt addiction. In tough financial times, some individuals and households are left with no other way to pay for daily expenses besides use of credit cards. New business owners who need to expand their small businesses often incur large balances on their credit cards, and they may fall into deep debt if their plans do not come to fruition in time for them to make substantial payments on their balances.
Debtors Anonymous does not help people who use debt for usual, planned or emergency expenses, but rather it helps consumers who incur debt to buy items they do not need or live above their means by paying for meals, vacations and other luxuries with unsecured credit that they are not able to pay off. Individuals or families who have incurred debt but are not compulsive debtors are best served by finding credit counseling services to restore their financial health.
Group Support Leads to Recovery
Participants in DA meetings can expect to meet other people in their neighborhood or geographic area who are also experiencing financial, social and personal difficulties due to overuse of unsecured debt. Some of the participants in these meetings may have hit rock bottom, in that they have lost jobs, businesses, relationships, health, or even contemplated or attempted suicide due to the aftermath of constant compulsive borrowing. The participants in these meetings also discuss how they are implementing the 12 steps, which are the foundation of the organization, into their daily lives. The most important of the 12 steps is a realization that debt addiction is a disease that compulsive debtors cannot handle without putting their trust in a higher power that will guide them to stop compulsive borrowing and restore their inner well-being.
Consequences of Debt Addiction
Compulsive use of unsecured debt can lead to homelessness, and Debtors Anonymous has helped homeless former debt addicts return to productive lives.
Participants in debtors support groups also discuss their successes in order to reinforce their new images as debt-free, inwardly healthy people and to encourage others to follow in their footsteps as they achieve their goals of eliminating debt and the impulse to borrow. They share pointers on how they got out of debt and what led them to compulsive borrowing. The atmosphere in these support groups is one of mutual encouragement. Using the 12 steps of Debtors Anonymous as a guide, participants in DA meetings discuss how to make amends to those whom they have hurt through their financial irresponsibility, as well as how to strengthen their resolve to maintain a debt-free lifestyle.