Debtors Anonymous is a group created for people who are essentially addicted to debt. Much like the more well-known Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Debtors Anonymous is designed to help you overcome compulsive spending that’s ruining your financial life. There’s even a 12-Step Program to follow in DA, just like AA. Here are some things to think about if you’re wondering if Debtors Anonymous could help you.
Is Spending Too Much Really like Drinking?
Addiction and compulsion are complex phenomena. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.” The key pieces—chronic, relapsing, and disorder—spell out exactly what makes an addiction so powerful. It’s something too powerful to control by will power alone, and it always comes back to take more.
What you’ll notice about the NIDA definition of addiction is it specifically calls out drug use as a target. Many people are hesitant to accept that spending too much can be an addiction just the same as doing drugs. However, if you’re someone who has experienced this, you know it’s chronic, relapsing, coming internally, and leading to adverse consequences.
Debtors Anonymous is a place where people struggling with their addiction to debt, can seek help and support from people who understand. Like with AA, DA is much more than showing up for a few meetings and declaring yourself cured. When you have a true addiction, it never really goes away, you just learn how to live with it.
Showing up at DA should be an admission that something is unhealthy about your relationship with spending, and you’re ready to seek help and humility in order to get it under control. One of the first things you’ll do at DA is track your spending. Having to record every single thing you buy can bring both perspective and a higher-level awareness to what’s really going on. You’ll then start working through your spending compulsion with others in a group setting.
Who Benefits from Joining Debtors Anonymous?
One group of people need DA more than any other; those whose debt is damaging their lives because of compulsive spending. Debt doesn’t discriminate against any type of person. Everyone is vulnerable to it. Debtors Anonymous is one step you should take to regain control of your life if you’re overwhelmed by debt. These are a few other things worth considering:
- Speak to a credit counselor. There are non-profit organizations out there that exist specifically to help people struggling with debt. Credit counselors can help you with budgeting, getting your credit report, or putting together a debt management plan.
- Consider ways to restructure your debt. While Debtors Anonymous is a great resource for getting your spending under control, it might not necessarily help you with your current level of debt. Depending on your circumstances, a debt relief program might get you back on your feet. Organizations such as Freedom Debt Relief have lots of experience helping consumers get rid of their debts.
- Think about a credit card balance transfer. This is something you’ll only want to undertake if you’ve gotten to a place where you think you can seriously control your spending. A balance transfer lets you move existing credit balances onto a new account with a low introductory rate. Doing this can give you time to pay down debts without accumulating interest. It’s important to note, however, fees and the lingering risk of running out of time make this approach only worthwhile if you’re ready to tackle your debt head-on.
How Do You Join Debtors Anonymous?
According to the Debtors Anonymous webpage, the only requirement to join is “a desire to stop incurring unsecured debt.” If this is you, it might be time to reach out to DA. This could be a turning point, where you can finally regain control of your financial life.