What is Compulsive Debting?

Compulsive debting is a disease.

We have found that it is a disease that never gets better, only worse, as time goes on. It is a disease, progressive in its nature, which can never be cured but can be arrested.

Before coming to D.A., many compulsive debtors thought of themselves as irresponsible, morally weak, or – at times – just plain “no good.” The D.A. concept is that the compulsive debtor is really a very sick person who can recover if he or she will follow, to the best of his or her ability, a simple program that has proved successful for other men and women with a similar problem.

As compulsive debtors, we have fallen into patterns of spending that do not satisfy our real needs. Some of us have chronically held back on paying our bills and debts, even when we had the money to pay them. Or we have faithfully kept up our payments to one or two creditors and neglected the others. Some of us have simply ignored our debts for some time, hoping against hope that somehow they would miraculously get paid.

Some of us have been compulsive spenders, showering ourselves with things we neither need nor wanted. When we felt needy or lacking, we splurged on something we could not afford. We spent impulsively, incurred debt, felt guilty, promised never to do it again, and only repeated the same cycle the next time the feeling of “not enough” came up. Having overspent, we often had nothing to show for it and wondered where all that money went. Some compulsive spenders are not actually in debt, but they are still welcome in D.A. The only requirement for membership in Debtors Anonymous is a desire to avoid incurring unsecured debt.

Some of us have been compulsive paupers, leaving ourselves broke time and again, struggling from one financial crisis to the next. Then there are those of us who find it almost impossible to spend money on ourselves. The TV breaks and stays broken; that pair of shoes, ready for retirement, is made to work yet another year; and even medical and dental problems go unattended to.

This disease affected our vision of ourselves and the world around us. It led us to believe we were “not enough” – at home, at work, in social situations, in love relationships. It also led us to believe that there is not enough out there in the world for us. The disease manufactured a sense of impoverishment in all that we did and saw.

In reaction to this, we withdrew into a dream world, fretted over money, and avoided responsibility.

Reprinted from “Debtors Anonymous.”