Article about Ali Owen

Local woman talks cost of spending on MTV
By LAUREN McWHORTER
The Eagle-Gazette staff
lmcwhort@nncogannett.com

FAIRFIELD COUNTY [Ohio] – Amanda native Alicia Owen got addicted to spending money after graduating from high school.

But today, the 21-year-old Columbus resident is trying to encourage others not to make the same mistakes she did.

Owen’s story was featured on the MTV series, True Life: I’m a compulsive shopper, which aired earlier this month.

The series follows young people and the unique sub-cultural issues they deal with in their daily lives, according to MTV’s Web site.

“I don’t blame my parents, but growing up I would be spending money right along with them,” said Owen, an Amanda-Clearcreek High School graduate.

Owen said when she began living independently in Columbus her spending continued, leaving her deeply in debt.

In the True Life episode, Owen comes to terms with her debt and her illness, sees a therapist, and begins going to Central Ohio Debtors Anonymous meetings in Columbus. She meets her mother at Texas Roadhouse in Lancaster for a serious conversation about her spending issues.

“The biggest problem with what I was doing was that I was dealing with emotional issues like feeling down, by spending and going shopping,” Owen said. “Supporting the habit cost a lot. I couldn’t control it anymore.”

With or without MTV’s cameras, Owen knew she needed help, and being filmed for two months made her face the issue head-on.

“My family and friends were interviewed. The cameras were there on my 21st birthday. It was difficult, but nothing good comes easy,” she said.

Owen now recognizes her issue as an illness, and she is taking the steps to do something about it.

“Being in recovery is a daily process,” she said.

Her goal is to raise awareness about this illness in Ohio because it is often difficult to recognize and find treatment. Owen continues to attend the Debtors Anonymous group in Columbus, works at a bar as a waitress to pay off her debt and has begun writing a book about her experiences.

“It’s about being an adult, about money and being aware of choices,” she said. “What I was doing was just like someone abusing alcohol or shooting a needle in their arm. The consequences are just as bad.”

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