Can Shopping Addiction Be Treated?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/15/2021

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Shopping addiction, like substance use disorders and other behavioral addictions, can be treated in a number of ways. While some of these are widely accepted as treatments for the addiction itself, there are other options that may be less recognized but can still be beneficial to certain individuals.

Shopping Addiction Treatment

Shopping Addiction

Taking a walk is one way to cope with the urge to shop.

Also called compulsive buying disorder, shopping addiction can be treated in several ways, but according to Indiana University, it is most often recommended “that spending addicts seek professional counseling or a self-help group to deal with this problem.” In addition, some individuals may be prescribed medication to help them avoid further issues with their disorder. There are also self-help techniques that shopping addicts can learn in order to prevent buying binges such as:

  • Paying for purchases with cash instead of with credit cards
  • Avoiding shopping alone
  • Taking a walk, exercising, or doing other constructive activities when the urge to shop occurs
  • Destroying all credit cards

Behavioral Therapy for Shopping Addiction

As stated by the journal of World Psychiatry, “There are no evidence-based treatments for compulsive buying disorder,” but cognitive-behavioral therapy has become the most popular treatment option for this issue. CBT can help individuals struggling with addictions begin to understand why they participate in the behavior they do, how it makes them feel, and what they may be attempting to cope with by doing it. “Persons with compulsive buying disorder frequently meet criteria for Axis I disorders,” particularly mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorder, and eating disorders, and CBT can help uncover these issues.

In addition, CBT teaches patients how to anticipate problems and then determine better behaviors in the face of those issues. Learning new, safer behavior that is better for the individual in the long run is a large part of this program.

Many individuals also choose to attend group therapy sessions or support groups, which can provide them with the kind of social network that will strengthen their recoveries. Shopaholics Anonymous is a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous that allows shopping addicts to come together and discuss their issues as well as their goals and triumphs in recovery.

Pharmacological Methods for Shopping Addiction

Medication is rarely used to treat this disorder, but it can be very beneficial for certain individuals. Antidepressants have been found to be helpful in some cases because many people who shop compulsively do so to cope with feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions. Antidepressants can be used to balance out these issues so the individual will not feel the compulsive need to shop in order to self-medicate.

Shopping Addiction Recovery

With the right treatment and time, many individuals are able to avoid their compulsive shopping habits and get themselves out of debt. This can take effort, but it is necessary and extremely beneficial to the life of the individual as well as to their loved ones.