Whether it’s browsing online or strolling through the mall, the urge to buy new things is a part of the American lifestyle. We all want to treat ourselves from time to time, but shopping becomes an addiction when we feel compelled to spend money on things we don’t need and can’t afford. Mental health professionals say compulsive shopping is like any other addiction. It usually starts as a way to relieve emotional pain caused by anything from a difficult childhood to genetic predisposition.
Like other addictions, compulsive shopping becomes a problem when it interferes with everyday activities. While it is much like other behavioral addictions, such as gambling or binge eating, it often occurs with other addictions too. A co-occurring disorder, such as a shopping addiction with depression or anxiety, is common and makes both disorders harder to treat. Unlike most disorders that begin in adolescence or young adulthood, compulsive shopping usually becomes a problem with financial independence.
Do you wonder if you’re addicted to spending money? Here are some signs to look for:
Some experts argue that behavioral addictions, such as shopping or eating, are not addictions because they don’t involve substances that cause withdrawal or physical tolerance. Others think spending addictions fall into broader categories like behavioral disorder (gambling), mood disorder (anxiety or depression), impulse control (compulsive stealing), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Like those with other addictions, shopping addicts get carried away with spending money, thus endangering relationships, performance and financial well-being. Compulsive spending provides an escape, but the high passes quickly. Spending becomes a ritual like other addictions - thinking about shopping, planning the trip, the actual shopping with feelings of euphoria, and then crashing and self-criticism.
Newly purchased items are soon forgotten, and dreams of the next shopping trip begin. There is also a sense of embarrassment, and most prefer to shop alone. The actual high comes from spending money, not gaining new possessions. Window shopping, for example, is not an addiction.
At Enlightened Solutions, we know shopping addiction is often combined with a substance abuse issue. Sometimes people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the guilt and shame they feel for their shopping addiction. Our team of experienced medical and mental health professionals can treat patients with co-occurring disorders or single addictions. We provide 24-hour medical supervision, necessary medications, and counseling, but we do much more. Our holistic detox program includes activities, such as yoga and equine therapy, that increase self-esteem and teach new skills, and our therapy looks at entire family systems.
If you or someone you love has a shopping and substance addiction, we want to help. Contact us today for more information.
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