Debtors Anonymous is a 12-Step support program of “men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from compulsive debting.” Debtors Anonymous is a non-profit organization reliant on contributions and donations from members, there are no actual fees for membership and attending meetings.
One of the principles of Debtors Anonymous, and all other 12-Step programs, is of its impartiality when politics, religion, race and other controversial topics come into play. Debtors Anonymous does not take any sides and is a spiritual program although many confuse the element of a higher power as being that of a religious being. In order to achieve this impartiality, Debtors Anonymous does not affiliate with or endorse any other organization whether it is political, social or religiously motivated.
Regular attendance at meetings is recognized as a crucial part of being a member of Debtors Anonymous and recovering from the disease of compulsive debting. Meetings are prominent and usually meet on a regular weekly basis. Meetings are the foundation of the program and help members to build networks of those with a common problem.
Debtors Anonymous centers on the Twelve Steps, derived from that of Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps are spiritual in nature and, simply put, teach members to realize their disease, search within themselves, make changes in themselves and how they act and help others along this path. Examples of this are:
- Step 1 “We admitted we were powerless over debt”
- Step 4 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”
- Step 9 “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible”
- Step 12 “Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to compulsive debtors”
The 12 Steps are intertwined with the sponsor program of Debtors Anonymous. A sponsor is a member who has been through all twelve of the steps and can take a new member through. Having a sponsor is an integral part of Debtors Anonymous, and other 12-Step Programs. Going through the twelve steps is recognized as one of the most important parts to recovery and a sponsor leads one through this giving advice and support along the way based their experiences and the lessons they have learned in the program.
Debtors Anonymous has its own literature they provide in meetings. This literature includes both free pamphlets and books for purchase that teach on the nature of the compulsive disease. It contains stories of suffering and recovery of others with the same addiction and entails details about the program and its principles as a whole.
Debtors Anonymous also includes Pressure Relief Groups and Meetings for those who have not incurred debt for 90 days or more. These groups and meetings review financial situations and teach creating financial spending and saving plans and how to take action on them. These groups aid members in consistent recovery from debt.
Creating a spending plan is of key importance for those in the fellowship as it is entirely relevant to recovery from the disease. Spending plans may be humbling as it makes members realize how little they can in fact afford to spend without incurring unsecured debts. A spending plan allows members to make realistic purchases without finding themselves in continuously worsening debt.
Being of service is an important part of being a member in Debtors Anonymous. Being of service can be on many different levels ranging from local meetings to Intergroup and World Service. Most common is service at local meetings the member attends. This can range from small tasks such as clean-up or bringing coffee up to larger responsibilities such as being the Secretary, Treasurer or General Service Representative. Being of service helps in different ways, one of which being a commitment to attend a particular meeting on a regular basis. Service helps also for members to give back what was given to them when they first came into the program.
Anonymity is a crucial part of Debtors Anonymous. The anonymity entails that no-one’s identity is ever disclosed outside of the meeting they attended and no information that was discussed leaves the meeting rooms with exceptions such as that which the General Service Representative communicates to panels amongst others.