Beat Your Shopping Addiction

Overcome your denial and confront your compulsive shopping.

Overcoming a Shopping Addiction

shopping addiction recoveryA shopping addiction is a slippery slope to tumble down. It starts off seeming harmless and before you know it, you are unable to pay your bills and are driving away your significant other. Shopping addiction can become ugly quickly, which is why it is important to overcome your shopping addiction and stop it in its tracks. You may feel like this is impossible because you have tried and failed at it before, but rest assured, you can be in control of your shopping habits by being diligent in your recovery.

The first step is beating your denial. This is the hardest part of confronting an addiction, yet it is essential for every addict to face. Be willing to admit that you have a problem. Recognize that, for whatever reason, shopping gives your brain the dopamine that it craves and somewhere along the line, you began to depend on it for happiness, stress relief and normalcy. Accepting and understanding your own mental condition is an imperative step to recovery.

The next step is taking your recovery seriously. It is easy to scoff at shopping addiction and make light of it because it does not involve needles or narcotics or overdoses. But if you ever hope to beat your shopping addiction, you must take the consequences that it can have on your life seriously. The fact of the matter is, a shopping addiction can leave your life in shambles. Friends, family, coworkers and financial institutions will becomes discouraged with you as you spend all your resources on shopping. In taking your recovery seriously, you must become aware of your triggers and learn how to manage them. You must find healthier ways of spending your time, money and energy in order to balance yourself. You must teach yourself how to reach out for help and be vulnerable. And you must create for yourself a healthy support system if you do not already have one.

A shopping addiction can be a menace to your life, but there is hope of overcoming it. If you have tried and failed on your own, do not be ashamed to reach out for help from mental health professionals or addiction specialists. You will not be judged or laughed at. Shopping addiction is recognized as a legitimate condition and the help of a mental health professional can be exactly what you need to get your life back.

How to Identify a Shopping Addict

identify shopping addictionShopping addiction is not a laughing matter. It is possible for people to latch onto shopping as their source of happiness and therapy, and as a means of alleviating stress. If this becomes a life long pattern, the individual is in for a rocky road. Shopping addictions are known to destroy people’s finances, relationships and reputations. They reduce intelligent people to desperation and dysfunction. The first step in defeating a shopping addiction is identifying it. Here is a description of some of the most common signs and symptoms of a shopping addiction:

  • Hoards of possessions. Shopping and hoarding go hand in hand together. Because it is an addiction, the addict can never satisfy their craving for buying new things, and the amount they accumulate becomes overwhelming. If you or someone you know does not have control over their stuff per space ratio, it is entirely possible that they have a shopping addiction.
  • Consistent money problems. Constant financial hardships can be a sign of a number of addictions because so many addictions require substantial funding. A shopping addiction is particularly hard on the wallet because part of the addiction is handing the money over. A sense of power and pleasure is derived from exchanging money for possessions, so if this attribute is something you are observing, it could indicate a shopping addiction.
  • Turning to shopping to alleviate stress. A person’s shopping addiction can be observed in their behavior. In times of stress or trouble is when a person’s addiction flare up most violently. They become desperate to turn to the thing that they know calms them. When a shopping addict is stressed, they will compulsively gravitate toward their favorite stores where they know they can spend money on items they value. The change in their behavior is instantaneous. They are suddenly calm, collected and satisfied. If you observe this type of shift in behavior after shopping, be wary of a shopping addiction.
  • A majority of time goes to shopping. A compulsive shopper will also want to spend their time doing almost nothing but shopping. Shopping is a socially acceptable activity, and it is not uncommon for people to want to shop. But when someone becomes obsessed with shopping, they need to check their behavior for signs of a shopping addiction.

Do Shopping Addicts Need Treatment?

treatment for shopping addictionWhen the term “shopping addict” is used in all seriousness, you can almost hear people’s eyes rolling at how quickly the idea is brushed off. After all, isn’t the word addiction saved for life threatening things like a cocaine addiction or a meth addiction? The answer is no. Addiction is all around us. It exists in the form of sugar addiction, salt addiction, phone addiction and yes, you guessed it, shopping addiction. A shopping addiction is a very real and very serious things. Does it pose as immediate a threat as a cocaine or meth addiction? No. But, can it ruin your life over time? Absolutely. People with shopping addictions, particularly severe ones, need to bring their bad habit of over shopping to an end by any means necessary.

Does this mean that shopping addicts need addiction treatment? The answer is complicated. Professional treatment, in the form of rehabilitation or counseling, is not for everyone. There are many people who are capable of using self help resources to heal their addiction problems, and others yet who derive their strength from support groups or other close relationships. However, any addiction, be it to shopping or gambling or a substance, warrants treatment when the addict wants to quit, has tried to quit and has failed. This is a sign that help is needed, which is natural and normal as we are social beings that are required to reach out for help sometimes in life in order to survive.

One does not even need to think of themselves as an addict, if that term comes too loaded with stigmas and stereotypes, one can simply identify that they are doing something that has become a problem. Shopping compulsively means that a person is shopping with little to no regard for healthy budgeting, impulse control or space management. It is only a matter of time before they are unable to pay their bills or keep a handle on their lives. If that is not serious, it is hard to say what is. If a shopping addiction is robbing you of normalcy, look into addiction treatment. It just might be the thing that can turn your life around!

Confronting a Shopping Addiction

confront shopping addictionA shopping addiction is the compulsion to spend money on commodities, large or small. It is not an addiction in the traditional sense, in that it is putting you or others in immediate danger. Rather, it is detrimental to you on a different level, wreaking havoc on your finances, negatively impacting your relationships and taking your focus and energy off of things that are more important. Often, addiction to shopping goes unnoticed in our consumer society, where invasive marketing tells us we need to shop in order to be functional. However, addiction to shopping is something that is damaging lives daily and needs to be addressed.

The compulsion to shop uncontrollably usually develops like all addictions do: an inability to cope and manage in a healthy way. Shopping is a comfort and an indulgence that gives people endorphins and dopamine to relax them and make them happy. Just like drugs, alcohol, sex or gambling, shopping is some people’s “feel good” ritual, and just like other addictions it comes with heavy consequences. Financial crisis is the most obvious symptom of a shopping addiction. Credit card bills and balances become unmanageable, throwing the shopping addict into depression which only makes them want to shop more. Personal relationships also come under strain as friends and family begin to notice the problem. Financial disagreements are one of the leading causes for break-ups in romantic relationships, which a shopping addiction can initiate rapidly. A shopping addiction also distracts the addict from real life obligations and is too frequently used as a crutch to avoid dealing with problems responsibly.

Shopping addiction is not a common reason for seeking addiction treatment, however, the addict should bring their compulsion under control by whatever means necessary to prevent disastrous life consequences. Often people turn to self-help literature or a financial adviser to curb their shopping addiction, which can be very effective. If the compulsion is too strong for these methods, there are also online or in-person support groups for shopping addicts which can be enormously helpful.