Debtors Anonymous

Debtors Anonymous

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Debtors Anonymous (DA) is a Twelve Step program for people who share a common inability to maintain financial solvency. DA was founded in 1971 by members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) who found that their financial difficulties were caused by an addictive disease not unlike alcoholism, compulsive debting. In the DA program it is considered a personality defect that can be gradually changed over time. The only requirement for membership in DA is a desire to stop incurring unsecured debt. As of 2003, there were over 500 DA meetings throughout the United States and in 13 other countries throughout the world.[1][2]

Two terms used in the DA program, "terminal vagueness" and "compulsively inattentive," are used to describe the characteristic behaviors of compulsive debtors. They refer to a systematic avoidance of monitoring one's finances. In this way compulsive debtors either overestimate or underestimate their account balances, but never know exact amounts. So, in DA members are encouraged to "keep numbers" — record each penny owed, spent, and earned. One such method advocated is to make a "spending plan." A spending plan is essentially a list of of all products and services to be purchased. Members review these and assess whether items on the spending plan seem reasonable. A variation on a spending plan is known as the "envelope method." In this method members separate each of their expenses into categories and then fill an envelope with the amount of money they can spend in each.[2]

Unlike other Twelve Step programs, DA meetings include an "accountability" session. After opening the meeting with readings of DA literature, and sharing about that and other topics, in the accountability section members are allowed to ask questions and interrupt each other to give advice. Outside of weekly meetings, members are encouraged to organize "pressure relief meetings." In such meetings, a newer member invites two veteran members to review his or her financial records in detail and give practical advice.[2]

DA has one conference-approved book used as standard literature, A Currency of Hope. It includes DA's adaptations of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions includes DA's original Twelve Recovery Tools and Signposts.[3] Researchers have found that a lack of DA approved literature was one of the common obstacles preventing potential members from entering the DA program. It was also found that the necessities of admitting powerlessness, attending meetings, and being open to individual interpretations of the Twelve Steps, were similarly problematic for potential members.[4]

Compulsive Buying Disorder

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. Most persons with CBD meet the criteria for a Axis II disorder. CBD is found in 5.8% of the United States population, of which approximately 80% are female. It is frequently comorbid with mood, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders. Onset of CBD occurs in the late teens and early twenties and is generally chronic. CBD is further distinguished from OCD hoarding and mania. Along with medication, like SSRIs, DA has been showing to be a promising treatment for CBD.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ Strauss, Steven D.; Jaffe, Azriela (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beating Debt. Alpha Books. ISBN 1592571166. OCLC 52959323. 
  2. ^ a b c Morenberg, Adam D. (July 2004). Governing Wayward Consumers: Self-Change and Recovery in Debtors Anonymous (PDF), Tampa, Florida: University of South Florida. OCLC 56564118. Retrieved on 2007-06-12. 
  3. ^ Debtors Anonymous (1999). A Currency of Hope. Needham, Massachusetts: Debtors Anonymous General Service Board, Inc.. ISBN 0970323808. 
  4. ^ Hayes, Terrell A. (2001-2002). "Potential Obstacles to Worldview Transformations: Findings From Debtors Anonymous". International Journal of Self Help and Self Care 1 (4): 253-368. ISSN 1541-4450. 
  5. ^ Hartston, Heidi J. (June 2002). "Impulsive behavior in a consumer culture". International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice 6 (2): 65-68. doi:10.1080/136515002753724045. ISSN 1471-1788. 
  6. ^ Black, Donald W. (2001). "Compulsive Buying Disorder: Definition, Assessment, Epidemiology and Clinical Management. Therapy In Practice". CNS Drugs 15 (1): 17-27. ISSN 1172-7047. 
  7. ^ Black, Donald W. (Reburary 2007). "A review of compulsive buying disorder". World Psychiatry 6 (1): 14-18. ISSN 1723-8617.

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