Debt-Anon is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from the effects of compulsive debting. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of compulsive debting in a relative or friend. There are no dues or fees for Debt-Anon membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. Debt-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to recover from the effects upon us of another person's compulsive debting, and to help families and friends of compulsive debtors.
Debt-Anon WelcomeWe welcome you to the Sunday Debt-Anon Family Group and hope that in this fellowship you will find the help and friendship that we have been privileged to enjoy. We would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We too were lonely and frustrated; but here we have found that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered, and no unhappiness too great to be lessened.
The Debt-Anon Family Groups consist of relatives and friends of compulsive debtors who realize that by banding together they can better solve their common problems. We urge you to try our program. Without spiritual help, living with or having lived with a compulsive debtor is too much for most of us. We become nervous, irritable, and unreasonable; our thinking becomes confused, and our perspective becomes distorted. Rarely have we seen a person who was not greatly benefited by working the Debt-Anon program. The Twelve Steps of Debt-Anon which we try to follow are not easy. At first we may think that some of them are unnecessary, but if we are honest, open-minded and willing to apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to our lives, we find that the benefits can be limitless, including God's gift of serenity.
The Debt-Anon Problem *
Debt-Anon members have much in common with the friends and relatives of other addicted people. Most of us grew up in families with secrets, and we were not taught to think about our own needs and take positive action to meet them. We chose friends and partners who could not or would not love and support us in a healthy way. We lived life from the standpoint of victims and perceived any personal criticism as a threat. For most of us, anger, fear and depression were nearly constant. We acquired some unhealthy beliefs about ourselves very early in our lives -- that we were not worthwhile and lovable, that we were able to control other people's behavior, and that money was the most important sign of love.
We have also felt the shame of thinking we were responsible for the compulsive debting behavior of a family member or friend. Our self-esteem dropped to low levels, and we doubted our attractiveness, our emotions, and our sanity. We have felt betrayed by those we loved the most. Many of us were financially abused, stolen from or otherwise placed in physical danger. We were often too ashamed to ask for help.
Some of us minimized the importance of the compulsive debting behavior or denied it until we felt emotionally numb. Others focused on the compulsive debting and the financial behavior to the point of obsession and tried every known method to control it. Some of us participated in financial behavior that made us ashamed of ourselves or used money to manipulate the compulsive debtor. Some of us misused drugs, alcohol, or food and others kept so busy that we didn't have time to feel our emotions. We often neglected our health, our jobs and our children. No matter how we tried to struggle against it, deny it or minimize its effects, the failure of our efforts to cope with compulsive debting brought us to the point of despair. This is what we mean when we say in the First Step, "our lives had become unmanageable."
Explanation of an Debt-Anon Member
We had lost our identity of self by becoming an extension of another's illness, either in a subtle fashion or via direct manipulation. Our days were devoted to brooding over the past, and feeling anxious about the future. Panic buttons were close to the surface and easily pressed.
As we consumed more and more energies in an effort to resolve the debt problem in the family, our self-image deteriorated and we too, became enveloped in a spiritual emptiness. Contact with inner reality had become lost. At this point, some of us turned twisted with hostility and frustration, while others were wrapped in self pity and inertia.
As we embrace Debt-Anon's philosophy and begin to heal, we slowly recognize our positive capabilities. We perceive that we are powerless over the disease of compulsive debting and therefore, can only change ourselves, not others. We are now ready to march forward, traveling toward new horizons, as we explore the wonders of serenity, dignity and emotional growth.
Keys to Debt‐Anon Recovery *
Over time, Debt-Anon members learn to accept a number of new ideas:
1) Compulsive debting is a disease very similar to alcoholism. At first many of us could not accept this idea. For Debt-Anon members it means that we see compulsive debtors as sick people, not bad people. They are powerless over debt.
2) The actions of the compulsive debtor are not a result of something we did or did not do, and we do not have the power to control their behavior.
3) Our attempts to control or ignore money addiction led to a decline in our emotional health and may have enabled the compulsive debtor to continue to practice his or her disease.
As we work toward full acceptance of these ideas, we begin to see our problems in a new light, and the awareness dawns that we do have choices concerning our own actions. This is the beginning of our recovery.
The Twelve Steps
1. We admitted we were powerless over debt -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
(The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Steps and Traditions does not mean that AA is affiliated with this program. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism--use of this material in connection with programs which are patterned after AA, but which address other problems, does not imply otherwise.)
The Twelve Traditions of Debt-Anon
1. Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.
2. For our group purpose there is but one authority-- a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants - they do not govern.
3. The relatives of compulsive debtors, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves a Debt-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of compulsive debting in a relative or friend.
4. Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Debt-Anon as a whole.
5. Each Debt-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of compulsive debtors. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of Debt-Anon, by encouraging and understanding our debting relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to the families of compulsive debtor.
6. Our Debt-Anon Family Groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always cooperate with Debtors Anonymous.
7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Debt-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. The Debt-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV and films. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all Debt-Anon and DA members.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.
Gifts of the Debt‐Anon Program *
When we approach the process of recovery with honesty, open-mindedness and willingness to apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to our lives, we will soon begin to see the rewards. We will become able to surrender our self-defeating behavior. We will find that we have the strength and insight to make good choices for ourselves. Our ability to act positively on behalf of our health, families, jobs and bank accounts will amaze us. We will find that others are doing things for themselves which we thought we had to do for them. Our ability to love and receive love will expand tremendously, and we will become increasingly available for loving relationships with others. We will recover the feeling of joy. We will become more honest with ourselves and experience a new comfort in our intimate relationships. We will feel the security that arises from true fellowship with others in the program, knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are. Feelings of failure and inadequacy will be replaced by selfconfidence and independence of spirit. We will no longer expect other people to provide us with an identity or a sense of self-worth. We will find the courage to be true to ourselves. We will know peace of mind and feel a stronger connection with the Higher Power of our understanding, and our Hope will turn to faith that God is really working in our lives, as we explore the wonders of serenity, dignity, and emotional growth.
* Credit and Appreciation:
The Problem, the Keys and the Gifts were printed and adapted with permission of S-Anon International Family Groups, P.O. Box 17294, Nashville, TN 37217, (615) 833-3152. Permission to reprint these excerpts does not mean that S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc. has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, or that S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc. necessarily agrees with the views expressed herein. S-Anon is a program of recovery for families and friends of sexaholics. More information about S-Anon can be found at www.sanon.org. Use of these excerpts in any non S-Anon context does not imply endorsement or affiliation by S-Anon.