We all have a favourite activity to share with our loved ones; for some, it’s shopping. Spending an afternoon at the mall with friends or family can be a lovely outing. But what to do when we fear that those we care for might be addicted to shopping?
While giving in to impulse occasionally is perfectly normal, the compulsion to shop – oniomania – which has negative effects on a person’s life could be a sign that they’ve developed an addiction. While we lead very consumeristic lifestyles, especially in the Holiday season, someone who consistently spends more than they can afford to buy items that they usually don’t need – especially if they’re attempting to hide their excessive purchasing – might have an addiction to shopping.
A shopaholic may be trying to eliminate negative feelings such as anger, depression, or loneliness; they may even be caught in a cycle of spending – addicted to the high induced by the rush of endorphins caused by shopping, then suffering from guilt and shame after a spree, which brings on anxiety and depression, leading to more shopping. A shopaholic usually spends more money than they can afford, preferring credit cards to cash and sometimes delaying bill payments while opening new credit accounts to facilitate more shopping. All of these behaviours can be destructive – but there are ways to help the shopping addicts in our lives.
Like with any addiction, the road to recovery may be a long and difficult one, but your presence – and your patience – are very important to your loved one as they navigate their addiction. The most essential step for curbing compulsive shopping is to avoid the potential for a binge: try convincing the shopaholic to pay off, cancel, and then destroy all but one credit card (which must be used only for emergencies) – a former friend once froze their credit card in a block of ice to prevent impulse buying. Insist that they shop only when absolutely necessary, and then to stick to a list of required items. Try to engage a shopaholic in other, more constructive activities such as exercise, reading, or music.
A shopping addict may frequently suffer from emotional problems, have low self-esteem, or trouble controlling impulsive behaviours. Often, dealing with the underlying issues can help the addict to recover. With time and effort, it’s entirely possible to overcome a shopping addiction – and the positive encouragement of a loved one can go a long way to help a shopaholic.