Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is also known as oniomania. This is considered to be an impulse control disorder that is similar to gambling, food, or sex addictions. Shopping addiction is a condition that affects just under nine percent of people in the United States.

What is Shopping Addiction?

Shopping can be an enjoyable experience, but when it becomes out of control, the person is living with an addiction. The shopping addict may feel compelled to buy items they don't need or really want; they get a rush from the experience itself. Despite efforts to stop the reckless spending, the shopping addict is unable to change their behavior.

Signs of Shopping Addiction

Here are some warning signs to watch out for that may point to a problem with shopping addiction:

  • Compulsive buying
  • Fear of being discovered
  • Feeling lost without a credit card
  • Getting a rush from spending money
  • Hiding evidence of purchases
  • Juggling bills to get money for shopping
  • Lying about spending patterns
  • Regular pattern of behavior
  • Shopping alone
  • Shopping when angry, depressed, bored, or lonely
  • Spending even if you know you can't afford the item
  • Thinking about shopping in between trips

Causes of Addiction

For shopping addicts, the underlying cause of their behavior can be complicated. Here are some reasons why a person may turn to shopping as a coping mechanism:

  • An attempt to deal with symptoms of depression
  • Difficulty handling intense emotions, such as anger
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Need for acceptance

Consequences of Shopping Addiction

Compulsive spending can only go on for a certain amount of time before the addict starts having to deal with the consequences. Some of them are as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Calls from bill collectors
  • Debt/financial hardship
  • Depression
  • Feeling ashamed
  • Legal actions
  • Lowered credit rating
  • Marriage/relationship breakdown

Help and Treatment for Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction treatment can have a multi-pronged approach. If the shopping addict is suffering from depression or an obsessive-compulsive disorder, medications may be prescribed as part of a treatment plan. Seeing a therapist is another part of the treatment for shopping addiction. The goal is to get to the root of the addictive behavior and deal with it. Cognitive behavior counseling can help the addict to stop using shopping as a way to deal with other issues in their lives. 

Beyond Quitting: Shopping Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation

Shopping addiction treatment also needs to deal with the financial fallout of the excessive spending. For some people addicted to shopping, getting credit counseling or contacting a 12-step program like Debtors Anonymous makes sense. Many shopping addicts tend to end up with a lot of clutter as well, so a program like Clutterers Anonymous might also be of help. For some, sharing experiences and getting support from people who understand the addiction could work. In cases where the shopping addict is unable to live with a self-imposed ban on spending, they may need to turn their financial affairs over to someone else to administer.