Addictions can manifest in different ways, and a compulsive shopping addiction is no different. According to research from Utah Valley University, shopping and buying addiction affects 18 million adults in the United States.
Far from what most would imagine when thinking of a “shopaholic,” this addiction plays out when the sufferer is consumed by their compulsion to spend money, regardless of need or financial means. While many people enjoy shopping as a treat or as a recreational activity, compulsive shopping as a mental health disorder can cause severe consequences.
Shopping addicts fuel their addiction with products, whether it be clothes or jewelry, or also anything from food and beauty products, to stocks or real estate. These things provide shopping addicts same rush or high a drug addicts experience. As with all addictions, once the brain associates shopping with this pleasure or high, they will try to recreate it again.
Types of shopping addiction
According to Shopaholics Anonymous, there are several different types of shopaholics:
- Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
- Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
- Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
- Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
- Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
- Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set.
Signs and symptoms of a shopping addiction
A person with a shopping addiction may:
- obsess over making purchases on a daily or weekly basis
- shop to cope with stress
- max out credit cards or open new ones without paying off previous balances
- buy unnecessary things or purchase items that go unused
- steal or lie in order to continue shopping; shoplift
- be unable to pay off debt or manage money.
Can a shopping addiction lead to hoarding?
The result of finding pleasuring in buying often turns into an excessive accumulation of things and sometimes even other disorders such as hoarding. Hoarding is a very serious issue as hoarders often lack of functional living space and tend to live in unhealthy or dangerous conditions. According to the Anxiety and Depression American Association, hoarders often live with broken appliances and without heat or other necessary comforts, causing anger, resentment, and depression among those immediately surrounding them.
This kind of environment detrimentally affects the social development of children and unlivable conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction and even the loss of child custody. Both shopping and hoarding are mental disorders that may lead to serious financial problems.
Shopping addiction treatment
Treatment for shopping addiction often includes behavioral therapy and individual counseling with a mental health expert who can help identify triggers and help with developing impulse control.
Sufferers might also have to shift their finances off to someone they can trust and attend money management classes. A supportive network of friends and family is always a good foundation to help people with addiction problems overcome their issues and go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.