Addiction Treatment

Ways to Overcome a Spending Addiction

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Last updated: 11/9/2018
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As a society, we used to laugh off a spending addiction as if it were just a passing phase, someone’s little quirk, or matter of “keeping up with the Joneses”, but, this addiction really isn’t as funny as we once thought.

What is a Spending Addiction?

Spending addictions are used interchangeably with shopping addictions which are behavioral disorders that are often used to compensate for emotional upsets, bolster self esteem, or to feel a sense of belonging or empowerment. According to a published study by the Indiana University, “People who “shop ’till they drop” and run their credit cards up to the limit often have a shopping addiction.” They may believe that if they shop, they will feel better, but, it generally makes them feel worse.

Compulsive shopping and spending is influenced and increased by social and cultural values, media, the internet, easier purchasing via credit, and 24 hours daily availability. Similar to other addictions it can be described as a pattern of chronic, repetitive, shopping and spending that becomes uncontrollable and difficult to stop, ultimately resulting in harmful consequences.

Spending Addiction Warning Signs:

Spending Addiction

You don’t have to let a shopping addiction take over your life.

  • Shopping or spending money to relieve emotional distress.
  • Having arguments with others over shopping or spending habits.
  • Compulsive or uncontrollable spending.
  • Using credit cards to spend over budgets and feeling lost without them.
  • Feeling euphoria when spending money.
  • Feeling ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed after spending money.
  • Lying to others about purchases and costs or attempting to conceal the amount of money spent.
  • Constantly having to juggle money and credit cards to make ends meet.
  • Money and material things become central to having a good life and the yardstick to measure self and others.

Ways to Overcome a Spending Addiction

  • Seek counseling or support if you feel unable to control your spending habits. There are addiction counselors that specialize in this area of treatment and the organization. Debtors Anonymous is a self help group that may be helpful in providing educational materials and support outside of a formal treatment program.
  • Make a list that outlines necessary spending with overspending to identify the most problematic areas.
  • Make a list for shopping and stick to the list only going to the necessary stores where the items are available.
  • Avoid buying cues from others.
  • Avoid discount warehouses, media advertising, online shopping, and television shopping channels.
  • Destroy credit cards except the one for emergency purposes only.
  • Take a walk or occupy your mind elsewhere when the urge to shop appears.
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and emotions when you have an impulse to overspend. Writing things down often helps us to see things more clearly.
  • Know the “triggers” to avoid that would make you want to overspend.
  • Stop buying repeat items just because they are a differ color, style, or feature enhancement.

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Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

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For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.

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