Recovery from compulsive debiting begins when we stop incurring new, unsecured debt, one day at a time. (Unsecured debt is any debt that is not backed up by some form of collateral, such as a house or other asset.) We attain a daily reprieve from compulsive debiting by practicing the Twelve Steps and by using the following tools.
- Meetings: We attend meetings at which we share our experience, strength and hope with one another. Unless we give to newcomers what we have received from D.A., we cannot keep it ourselves.
- Record Maintenance: We maintain records of our daily income and expenses, of our savings, and of the retirement of any portions of our outstanding debts.
- Sponsorship: We have found it essential to our recovery to have a sponsor and to be a sponsor. A sponsor is a recovering debtor who guides us through the Twelve Steps and shares his or her own experience, strength, and recovery.
- Pressure Relief Groups and Pressure Relief Meetings: After we have gained some familiarity with the D.A. program, we organize Pressure Relief Groups consisting of ourselves and two other recovering debtors who have not incurred unsecured debt for at least 90 days and who usually have more experience in the program. The group meets in a series of Pressure Relief Meetings to review our financial situation. These meetings typically result in the formulation of a spending plan and an action plan.
- Spending Plan: The spending plan puts our needs first and gives us clarity and balance in our spending. It includes categories for income, spending, debt payment and savings (to help us build cash reserves, however humble). The income plan helps us focus on increasing our income. The debt payment category guides us in making realistic payment arrangements without depriving ourselves. Savings can include prudent reserve, retirement and special purchases.
- Action Plan: With the help of our Pressure Relief Group, we develop a list of specific actions for resolving our debts, improving our financial situation, and achieving our goals without incurring unsecured debt.
- The Telephone and the Internet: We maintain frequent contact with other D.A. members by using the telephone, e-mail, and other forms of communication. We make a point of talking to other D.A. members before and after taking difficult steps in our recovery.
- D.A. and A.A. Literature: We study the literature of Debtors Anonymous and of Alcoholics Anonymous to strengthen our understanding of compulsive disease and of recovery from compulsive debting. In A.A. literature we can identify with many of the situations described by substituting the words “compulsive debt” for “alcohol.”
- Awareness: We maintain awareness of the danger of compulsive debt by taking note of bank, loan company and credit card advertising and their effects on us. We also remain aware of our personal finances in order to avoid vagueness, which can lead to compulsive debting or spending.
- Business Meetings: We attend business meetings that are held monthly. Many of us have long harbored feelings that “business” was not a part of our lives but for others more qualified. Yet participation in running our own program teaches us how our organization operates, and also helps us to become responsible for our own recovery.
- Service: We perform service at every level: personal, meeting, Intergroup, and World Service. Service is vital to our recovery. Only through service can we give to others what so generously has been given to us.
- Anonymity: We practice anonymity, which allows us freedom of expression by assuring us that what we say at meetings or to other DA members at any time will not be repeated.
Registered D.A. groups have permission to copy these Tools for distribution to their members