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Not sure what the correct group to post this is because it could go anywhere.... I'll apologize in advance for being overly wordy(i ramble lol). Ok, So here's the details: I'm 31 years old, had great credit in my early 20s, then got involved with substance abuse - long story short got addicted to pain medication thanks to an injury as a result from an accident and ended up being a straight up "junkie" - vehicle ended up repod, got divorced, racked up some CC debts, various cable bills/cell phone plans, a major hospital bill, and other debts, and basically skipped out on all of em for years. The Happy ending to my story is I'm almost 3 years clean, Have a good job now, Have a car which I've made on time payments on for just under a year, checking account/savings account, and have started the very long process of trying to dig my way out of the hole I've dug by trying to pay off some of my debts by negotiating settlements with CAs and paying lump sums(best deal I've managed to negotiate so far is $287 of a $787 debt). The bad part is that while I've [aid off a few things I'm still ridiculously deep in debt(If I include student loans which I know I'm never going to be able to ditchI'm probably $40k+ in debt, without student loans It's probably 18-20k). My credit score sucks ****(score is 561 according to experian). The majority of my debt's last date of any pmt was 2011-2012(I think I have 2 cell plans going into collections in 2013/14). I don't want to spend 7 more years dealing with no ability to qualify for a Credit card or get an apartment if I declare bankruptcy(although ironically while my credit history with virtually every other service became toxic, as far as apartment rental history goes I have almost 7 years of good standing/lease fulfilled in that regard) nor do I want to suddenly force the burden of repaying my student loans(have both private and federal ones) onto my parents who co-signed them. From what I've been reading the Debt consolidation services out there seem to not actually help my credit score(although it can't get much worse). I've been offered a secured card through a couple of the companies who I have settled debts with as well as USAA, and I'm thinking about opening up at least one with the hopes that They might help rebuild my score(Idk for sure about the CA settlement one, but I know the USAA one stated if I kept a good pymt history they would eventually change the card into and unsecured one, and whatever amount I initially put up would be put into a CD so I'd receive interest during the 2 years it was my "collateral" for the card. My question is what should I do to resuscitate my credit score? Should I go /w the secured cards to open up additional positive lines of credit, or will they end up not doing anything? Continue trying to contact the various CA's that have contacted me(plenty of the debts I haven't heard a peep from in years but just show up on my CR) and keep trying to negotiating settlements myself and paying them off, or go through one of the Debt consolidators? Just wait everything out for another 3 years and accept that I won't be able to get an apartment by myself? Or do I go /w the nuclear option and hit the bankruptcy button? If y'all need to move this topic somewhere else that's fine, I wasn't really sure where it fit best, but figured since I'm focusing on repairing my credit worthiness this thread might be best. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help! Just to summarize: Current Age:31 Current state of residence: TX Debts:40k+(16-20k student loans, 18-20k credit cards/medical/other) Credit score(561) Employed full time, has checking account, savings, Direct deposit, active vehicle loan /insurance /w current pmt history