A 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.