Addiction Treatment

Recognizing Compulsive Shopping Addiction

Call 800-926-9037 to speak with an alcohol or drug abuse counselor. Who Answers?

Last updated: 09/14/2018
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

According to a CNN Health news report, as much as five percent of men and six percent of women live with a compulsive shopping addiction in the United States. While its overall impact affects a person’s finances most all, compulsive shopping addiction actually qualifies as a bona fide psychological disorder.

Some people may go on shopping binges, others may buy a little too much during the holiday season, but someone addicted to shopping has been doing it for a long time on a continuous basis. As a psychological disorder, compulsive shopping addiction may have as much to do with a person’s self-esteem issues as it does the addiction itself.

Compulsive Shopping Addiction

Compulsive Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction often stems from low self-esteem.

With shopping being a normal part of everyday life – not to mention the perceived notion of success and affluence attached to it – it can be hard to recognize the signs of a compulsive shopping addiction. Since mounting financial difficulties become a key sign of shopping addiction, someone who possesses more than enough money may have a bit more difficulty spotting the signs of addiction than someone of modest means. Ultimately, it all comes down to the experience of shopping itself and the place it holds in a person’s life.

While financial irresponsibility or financial chaos are no doubt consequences of a compulsive shopping addiction, it’s the drug-like “high” of shopping that reels a person in and keeps them coming back for more. Not unlike drug addictions, the longer a person gives into a shopping addiction the stronger the addiction becomes. This process unfolds inside the brain where endorphin or “feel-good” chemical secretions gradually train the brain to anticipate the shopping experience. Over time, shopping takes on a priority all its own with little to no regard for the needs or wants of other people or pressing obligations.

Self-Esteem Issues

CNN Health estimates anywhere from one-third to one-half of compulsive buyers evolve into hoarders while others may simply discard the old when buying new. Somewhere along the line, a person affected by compulsive shopping addiction has learned to equate self-worth with actual possessions or things.

In terms of self-worth and self-esteem, people may turn to shopping as a way to:

  • Regain a sense of control over their lives
  • Make up for emotional neglect from parents during childhood
  • Make up for material lack during childhood
  • Build up or protect self-esteem by acquiring more and more

Financial Distress

The financial distress that results from a compulsive shopping addiction is often the first glaring sign that a person has a serious problem. Relationship-wise, financial problems can wreak havoc in a household. As people affected by compulsive shopping addictions often resort to secrecy and deceit to hide their behavior, trust levels between partners can disappear in a matter of days or weeks.

When the addiction is severe enough, a person may go so far as to shop online during work hours rather than actually working. This kind of behavior can potentially place a person’s job at risk, which opens up a whole other area of financial risk.

How Our Helpline Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution.

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

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

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.