A few months ago, I came across Debbie Roes’ extensive site for shopaholics called Recovering Shopaholic. While her site is not 12-step focused, she has wonderful, practical tips and suggestions for shopaholics. And recently, I wrote an article for her blog called Debtors Anonymous is Not Just for Debtors.
This article came out of our email exchange, when I asked her what she sees as the difference between a compulsive spender and a shopaholic. Here is her answer:
I don’t think there is much difference between being a shopaholic and a compulsive spender or debtor. Sometimes it is an issue of means. In my case, I was in debt for MANY years, pretty much up until I married my husband and had more means to shop and to pay off my credit cards.
I think discussions of compulsive shopping center TOO much on debt sometimes and one negative side effect of that is that people who shop compulsively but don’t have debt can tend to believe they don’t REALLY have a problem.
Debt is just one negative by-product of overshopping. It can also lead to relationship problems and what Dr. April Benson, a national expert on compulsive shopping, calls the “poverty of the soul.” In recent years, I didn’t have debt, but I did spend FAR too much time and energy on shopping and shopping-related activities, such that I became very out of balance in my life.
Later in the same email, she explained why she felt an article about why DA could help those who aren’t in debt might be of interest to her audience:
I think my audience might want to know more about Debtors Anonymous and how it might be able to help them, even if they don’t have a debt issue. There is not a “Shopaholics Anonymous” program, so if a person with a shopping problem is interested in a 12-step program, DA would be the one for them. I know that in recent years, I was interested in 12-step, but I didn’t go to DA because I wasn’t in debt. So a post about what it is and how it can help even those who are NOT in debt could be very useful.
Actually, I recently discovered a program called Spenders Anonymous, but it is a very small live meeting only program as of now. I reached out to them for more information, and they seem very sincere and heartfelt in their efforts.
If you read this blog, you know that for me, the solution to my compulsive spending addiction was found in the spiritual program of Debtors Anonymous. I tried many other routes, but nothing else worked for me. However, I recognize that there are many paths to the same goal.
But the fact is that DA is not just for debtors. There are live and phone meetings geared to compulsive spending, clutter, and underearning!
It makes me almost wish the word debtor was not in the name of this program that has saved my life because I know that anyone who is out of control with money, with or without debt, can find relief.
Click here to read my article, “Debtors Anonymous is Not Just for Debtors” for the Recovering Shopaholic blog.