Many people love to shop for new clothes or other items that make them feel good; moreover, many will joke that they are ‘shopping addicts’ because they take such pleasure from shopping. The very idea that a shopping addiction could be a real problem for some individuals is hard for others to comprehend. But the reality is that it is a very real condition and one that can destroy lives and relationships with others. There are so many reasons that a shopping addiction must be taken seriously as well as why it needs to be treated.
What is a Shopping Addiction?
It is important to note the difference between a real shopping addiction and simply liking shopping a lot. An addiction is a pattern of behaviour that negatively affects the day to day life of the affected individual. When shopping becomes an obsession, it can be classed as an addiction.
If a person spends all his or her time shopping or thinking about shopping, it may be that an addiction has developed. This is particularly true if shopping starts to crowd out everything else in that person’s life.
Could You Have a Shopping Addiction?
It is important that you rule out what could be classed as normal shopping behaviour if you are worried that you may have an addiction. There are certain signs that could indicate that you have a problem. These can include:
- regularly spending more than you can afford
- hiding your purchases from loved ones and feeling guilty about what you have spent
- returning items that you have bought because of your feelings of guilt
- shopping to make you feel better or to take you mind off negative feelings
- buying more than you need of a particular item
- losing control over the amount you spend whenever you go shopping
- preferring to spend on a credit card rather than with cash or a debit card – i.e. having the opinion that credit cards are like ‘free-money’
- arguing with loved ones over the amount of money you have spent
- preferring to go shopping or to spend your time shopping online rather than spending it with friends
- taking on extra credit to pay for shopping sprees.
If you can recognise some of the above items in your own shopping habits and behaviours, then you may need some help. If you are practicing at least four of the above, it indicates that you might have a shopping addiction, and one that requires treatment.
There are some who might wonder why shopping addiction would need treatment and may believe that the individual should ‘just stop’ shopping and then all will be well. Unfortunately, as with all addictions, it is not so easy to ‘just stop’.
Those who have a shopping addiction have no control over their shopping habits and if they could just stop, they almost certainly would, especially if their shopping habits are causing harm to their own life and the lives of those around them.
The Negative Consequences of a Shopping Addiction
In the early days, those who are on the cusp of a shopping addiction will probably feel surges of pleasure whenever going on a shopping spree. However, over time, these feelings usually diminish and may be replaced with feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety.
As the individual realises that he or she is losing control over the things bought and the amount spent, worry about how loved ones will react can set in. What can often happen though is that the feelings of shame and anxiety often make people return for more shopping to make them feel better – at least temporarily. This cycle of shopping must be broken for the addiction to be overcome.
As you might imagine, there are financial implications to a shopping addiction. Many individuals find it a struggle to fund their addiction, particularly as it progresses. As the addiction worsens, increasingly more money might be required to make the purchases, which can lead to mounting debt.
Some addicts will take out loans, credit cards and may even take drastic measures to fund their habit by, for example, remortgaging their home. This can often happen without their loved one’s knowledge. In some instances, family members only find out what their addicted loved one has been doing when things have reached a critical stage and creditors are calling to be paid.
The stress of dealing with a shopping addiction and the mounting debt it usually entails can lead to health problems for not only the addict, but also his or her family members. Relationships are often placed under massive pressure when one person has an addiction. A shopping addiction is no different. Once healthy relationships are often pushed to breaking point by addiction, with some families torn apart.
Why Shopping Addiction Must be Treated
It is important that a shopping addiction is treated seriously and that steps are taken to overcome it. Left as it is, it will inevitably spiral out of control to the point where the individual will be in danger of losing everything.
All addictions are illnesses of the brain and those affected cannot be blamed for this. It must be remembered that a shopping addiction is not a lifestyle choice, no matter what you may have heard. Nor is it something that only affects those from a wealthy background.
There are many stereotypes associated with all types of addiction and these are particularly dangerous as they can prevent affected people from getting the help needed to get better.
If you or someone you love is affected by addiction, you have to seek professional help. With a behavioural addiction such as shopping addiction, it is important to get to the cause of the illness so that this behaviour can be avoided going forward.
Through a series of counselling and therapy sessions, patients are helped to identify the root cause of the illness and are taught ways in which they can avoid a return to addictive behaviour in the future. If the addiction is severe, a programme of inpatient treatment is a good idea.
With this type of treatment, patients are removed from their daily life and will be cut off from all avenues of shopping for the duration of their treatment. This is often the best way to break the cycle. Nevertheless, there is more to recovery than this.
A shopping addiction is a psychological addiction that must be treated with therapy. Various techniques will be used including individual counselling, group therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. The idea is to help the patient learn how to develop healthy, normal shopping habits before he or she returns to everyday life.
If you are interested in finding out more about why shopping addiction must be treated or if you are concerned for someone you love and would like more information on the treatments available, please call us here at Middlegate today.
We are a referral service working with rehab providers across the UK. It is our mission to put clients in touch with the most suitable providers for their needs. We know which providers specialise in shopping addictions and can help you or a loved one to overcome this illness for good by referring you. Please call today for more information.