Last updated: 09/17/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
With shopping being a perfectly acceptable activity within today’s world, it may be hard to tell when shopping behaviors cross over into addiction. With retail bargains and sales popping up wherever you turn, the occasional impulse buy is understandable. When shopping becomes one impulse buy after another, a shopping addiction may be in the works.
As with any addiction disorder, compulsive behavior stands out as the key distinguishing factor that separates normal activities from addictive activities. Likewise, emotional and psychological factors, more oftentimes than not, add fuel to the “need-to-buy” fire. Knowing the signs of problem behavior is the first step towards getting the shopping addiction help you need.
The word addiction is most commonly associated with drugs and alcohol, though most people have heard of sex and gambling addictions as well. The effects of drugs and alcohol on a person’s physiological processes no doubt drive the addiction cycle. In turn, a person’s behavioral responses become the icing on the addiction cake.
With activities like shopping, sex and gambling, the activity itself triggers a physiological process, which in turn drives a person’s behavior. In effect, the process that makes up an activity becomes the addiction.
According to Semel Institute, the symptoms of addiction remain the same regardless of whether a substance or process addiction is at work. Some of the more prominent symptoms include:
- Inability to control a behavior
- Engaging in compulsive behaviors in spite of impending consequences
- Ongoing behaviors jeopardize relationships
- Risk taking
- Lying and or secrecy regarding a behavior
- Feelings of stress, anxiety and/or depression involving the behavior
Shopping addiction help enables a person to confront the issues surrounding the need to shop much like substance addiction helps a person confront the issues surrounding the need to use drugs.
Shopping for things you need or plan to buy is one thing. The occasional treat or extra purchase doesn’t warrant cause for concern either. Buying treats, extra items and unexpected purchases on a regular basis has more to do with impulse control (or the lack thereof) than purchases made out of necessity and special occasions.
Signs of impulse shopping behaviors include:
- Being easily tempted by items you have no need for
- Having unopened packages in your closet
- Clothing items with the tags still on
- Finding forgotten purchases made in the past
Shopping addiction help addresses impulse control triggers and how to control them. While symptom types may vary from person to person, through shopping addiction help participants gain a better understanding of how sets of symptoms relate to the underlying issues that drive the behaviors.
At face value, any addictive activity becomes a way of coping with everyday life. For this reason, people seeking shopping addiction help may very well be dealing with depression, anxiety or substance abuse issues in their lives. Shopping, in turn, becomes a way to fill a void or lack in a person’s life.
Emotion-based shopping may see a person feeling a rush when purchasing something new. Feeling out-of-sorts or edgy on days when you don’t go shopping may be another sign. Shopping addiction help provides people with the coping skills needed to fill emotional voids with more healthy activities.