Has shopping become a past-time for you? Many people, especially women, may answer that question yes…so how do you know when shopping has become a serious addiction instead of just bonding with friends, finding a cute outfit or having “me time?” According to the compulsive buying scale there are seven questions to ask yourself.
- Do you have unopened or tagged items in your closet? It is especially serious if you have forgotten you have them.
- Do you frequently purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy? It’s more serious if you are compulsive in regards to buying one name brand in particular.
- Do you medicate feelings of anger or frustration by going to the mall or a favorite boutique?
- Do you notice you get excited or feel a thrill when you buy? This could suggest an adrenaline rush, which is addictive with feel good hormones released when you make a purchase.
- After your purchase do you feel guilty or remorseful after you buy? Do you notice you rationalize your purchase to feel better?
- Do you conceal or hide your purchases?
- Do you feel anxious, out of sorts or empty if you don’t shop?
If you begin to notice that you are spending more at the mall than you should be or shopping online, stopping it before it becomes out of control is possible. These suggestions may help you or someone you love.
- Find a new activity to substitute for shopping. Listen to music, go for a run or walk, or plan short coffee outings with your friends. Talking with friends helps develop healthy communication for managing upsetting feelings.
- When you are in a situation that makes you want to shop, such as a conflict with a family member, stress at work, or feeling alone, write down your thoughts and have a person in place you can talk with.
- Limit the amount of cash you carry and leave credit cards or debit cards at home.
- Always carry a shopping list to the store and don’t allow yourself to get anything not on the list.
- Set a dollar limit with your partner and call one another prior to spending that amount. This helps add accountability, which also helps your partner know what’s going on.
A shopping addiction can lead to financial ruin as well as failed relationships. Talking with a licensed counselor can help you discover the feelings underneath your need for shopping. If your addiction has already caused problems in your relationship, more intense treatment may be necessary. Support groups such as Debtors Anonymous are helpful to the shopper and their family. It may seem innocent to go shopping with the girls, but if you are a shopaholic, it is as destructive as gambling.