Shopping is something that most people engage in at one time or another. And while many individuals who love to shop joke that they have an addiction to it, those who really are addicted to shopping will not find this activity particularly enjoyable. It is often very difficult to tell when shopping becomes an addiction but when it does, it can literally take over the life of the affected person and tear his or her family apart.
As with all other addictions, shopping addiction is an illness of the brain; an illness that must be treated for the affected individual to get better. It is a damaging condition that can have a negative impact on many lives, not just on the addicted person’s life.
What Is Shopping Addiction?
A shopping addiction is a disorder that can take many forms – from the person who cannot stop buying things that he or she does not need, to those who spend just to make themselves feel better.
Shopping is a harmless activity for most people, but for those whose lives are consumed by shopping and who are spending money they cannot afford to spend, the condition can be both socially and financially damaging.
Shopping addiction is often referred to as compulsive shopping, and it is classed as an impulse control disorder in the same way that gambling and sex addictions are.
What Are the Signs of a Shopping Addiction?
It can be difficult to tell when shopping becomes an addiction as there is a real difference between the condition and, for example, a shopping splurge. However, there are certain signs that can indicate one has a problem. These include:
- spending to relieve feelings of anger, depression, or anxiety
- constantly thinking about spending money or things you want to buy
- overspending and taking money that was budgeted for other essentials
- making compulsive purchases such as buying more than one of the same item
- hiding purchases from loved ones
- buying items but never using them
- feeling guilty after a shopping spree
- continuing to shop even when knowing there will be negative consequences
- taking out loans or credit cards to pay for shopping sprees.
If you can relate to any of the above, it is worth considering the possibility that you could have a shopping addiction. If so, then it is more than likely that you will need professional help to quit.
What Causes Shopping Addiction?
You may be wondering why you have developed a shopping addiction when others around you haven’t. What has caused you to acquire this condition where shopping has become such a negative force in your life?
What you should know though is that when shopping does become an addiction, there is very rarely a simple explanation for it. Like all other addictions, there is no single cause of shopping addiction for everyone. In most cases, it is an underlying issue that has led to the addiction developing. There are a number of risk factors that can make shopping addiction more likely in some people than in others though, including:
- Genes – Biology can play a key role in the development of any addiction. It is believed that the brain of some people is more susceptible to addiction than others. Certain behaviours, such as gambling, sex, and shopping, can trigger certain parts of the brain; in some people, they can overstimulate the pleasure and reward centres. Affected individuals derive more pleasure from activities such as shopping and so the reward centre of their brain will begin to associate the activity with pleasure. This then compels them to want to do it repeatedly.
- Family History of Addiction – Growing up in a family where addiction was a factor makes it more likely for someone to develop an addiction themselves. Seeing how others use certain substances or activities as a coping mechanism reinforces the idea and increases the likelihood of you becoming addicted yourself.
- Unresolved Trauma – People deal with traumatic events in different ways. Some engage in risky activities such as self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Others seek pleasure in compulsive activities such as gambling or shopping. If shopping provides a rush of pleasure, it could help to take your mind off the traumatic memories associated with an event such as neglect, abuse, bullying, or the death of a loved one.
It is important to remember that not everyone with the above risk factors will go on to become an addict. Moreover, there are certain individuals who do not have any risk factors but who still develop a problem. Addiction is a complex illness of the brain; one that requires professional help to be overcome.
What Are the Consequences of a Shopping Addiction?
You might be of the opinion that a shopping addiction is harmless enough, particularly when compared to other addictions such as an alcohol or drug addiction. However, while there are no physical symptoms associated with a shopping addiction, it can have a devastating impact on the affected person’s mental health.
Those who borrow to pay for their shopping sprees as well as those lying to loved ones about what they are doing, for example, could also be dealing with a huge amount of stress. This can then lead to other problems such as anxiety and depression.
The guilt and shame associated with this condition can become so overwhelming that some affected individuals begin to have suicidal thoughts. Many will then turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs to try to relieve these feelings, which could then result in them developing more than one addiction.
As you can see from the content in the above paragraphs, a shopping addiction can interfere with many aspects of daily life. If you are becoming obsessed with shopping, you will have little time left for anything or anyone else. This places a massive strain on relationships as those around you notice the changes in your behaviour. They may not be able to pinpoint the exact problem initially, especially in the early days, but they will notice that something is not right.
If your addiction is allowed to get out of control, you will likely face financial problems, which could then see your family in trouble. If you have been juggling credit cards to pay for shopping and are struggling to pay the bills, you will soon start receiving letters or phone calls from creditors. This then places added strain on your already fragile mental health. It might also add to the tension in relationships, pushing these to the breaking point.
Getting Help for a Shopping Addiction
It is easy to assume that a shopping addiction is not a real illness, but those affected by this will know that it is a very real problem. Fortunately, it is not a problem you have to continue living with.
You are not the first person to be affected by a shopping addiction and you will not be the last. As such, you should know that help is available. It is a condition that can be overcome, provided you access the right programme of care and support.
By calling us here at Addiction Helper today, you can get your journey to recovery started. We will discuss your situation with you in detail to determine exactly what you are dealing with. We will then be able to help you by providing information on the options available to you.
We work closely with many different providers of rehab programmes across the UK. This includes providers of free programmes such as the NHS and charities as well as privately-run programmes where there is a fee involved.
We will discuss your options with you in detail so that you can make an informed decision about the next steps to take to get your life back on track. Our advisors are fully trained in all types of addiction and are friendly and knowledgeable. Please call to talk to us about how you can overcome your illness.