Abstinence and Solvency Revisited

It was brought to my attention, yet again, that in my Daily Reader samples, I used the term “abstinence” to define refraining from unsecured debting and compulsive spending one day at a time, but there is a continuing debate over whether the correct term is abstinent or solvent. I addressed this previously on the blog, but wanted to add some additional thoughts that I have included in the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders (291 days written as of today, 71 left to write!). Here are those thoughts from the book:

There is an ongoing debate about whether those in recovery from compulsive debting and spending should call themselves solvent or abstinent. According to the Debtors Anonymous Telephone Intergroup website, “We use Abstinence and Solvency to have the same meaning: not incurring 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 car, house, etc.”

Abstinence is the practice of restraint. When we say we are abstinent in DA, it means we do not indulge in behaviors that are detrimental to our recovery from compulsive debting and spending. Those DA members who call themselves solvent define solvency as the daily process of not incurring unsecured debt. However, the literal definition of the word solvent is the “state of being able to pay our debts,” according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. So the use of the term by those in DA really brings a new meaning to it, which is fine by me.

Does it really matter what word we use to describe our recovery? As it says in the Debtors Anonymous Preamble, “The only requirement for membership in Debtors Anonymous is a desire to stop incurring unsecured debt.” So in the end, it is our common goal of recovery that brings us together, whatever term we use to describe ourselves.

Because of this ongoing debate, I have chosen to alternate the use of “abstinent” and “solvent” throughout the book.

4 thoughts on “Abstinence and Solvency Revisited

  1. To me they are the same thing. Abstinence means to my understanding that I do not debt at all. I do not “kite” a check, I do not borrow from anyone. If I cannot make a payment to a creditor holding an old debt, I make certain they know it in advance as well as when it will be paid. Solvency, again to me, means that through my spending plan I have planned my payments to all my categories of spending (rent, food, gas, bills, debt repayment, etc.) so that my spending is within my means. By the dictionary’s definition it will be a while before I am solvent.

    • Thank you so much for that thoughtful response and further clarification. I don’t know why people are arguing about this. And I agree with you that for our purposes, they words are interchangeable.

  2. Abstinence is the tool to reach solvency.
    Solvency is the result of behaviours that we call abstinence
    Exactely like sobriety is the result for not drinking once a day (abstinence) for an AA

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