Thursday, April 18, 2024

How To Overcome Spending Addiction

But The Good News Is That You Can Learn How To Stop Shopping Addiction It Just Takes Some Dedicated Effort

How to stop shopping addiction, emotional spending forever: the psychology of a shopping disorder

I won’t lie to you: At least for me, the urge never really goes away, particularly during times of change or extreme stress. Instead, I’ve had to learn my triggers and how to managethem in order to stay out of debt. I did this through work with a licensed therapist. If you suspect you really, truly have a deep-rooted problem, you should seek help from a professional.

The Cycle Of Shopping Addiction

People who struggle with compulsive shopping may experience ups and downs in their addiction. The urge to shop is usually strongest during moments of depression, sadness, or anger. Shopping addiction has also been associated with holidays that reinforce compulsive shopping, i.e. holiday shopping in December.

People who struggle with a shopping problem initially feel a high or rush from the act of shopping. However, any positive feelings they get from gratifying their compulsion are fleeting.

Many people feel deep regret, shame, or embarrassment in the aftermath of a shopping spree, which ultimately leads to more feelings of distress and more shopping.

Some people contain their shopping problem to online shopping. Sprees on sites like can also play into problem shopping patterns, and are often just as devastating as in-person shopping. The ability to quietly and quickly buy more through online merchants can lead to shopping sprees in the middle of the night, during work breaks, or from the comfort of the living room sofa. These sprees are often extremely financially devastating and can be hard to control.

Compulsive shopping often follows a distinct pattern:

  • Anticipation. This includes ruminating on possible shopping trips or items
  • Preparation for shopping. This may include making lists, compulsively looking online, researching items, or talking about shopping.
  • Put Boundaries In Place Around Shopping

    Shopping is unavoidable for a majority of people, myself included. But you CAN put boundaries in place for your finances to help with your addiction. Utilize curbside pickup and purchase only items that are needed. Ask your spouse or friend to stop by the store on their way over. Order your prescriptions at an actual pharmacy instead of a box store. Get pet supplies at the vet’s office.

    I have a friend who only allots so much money into a spending account, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. The rest of her funds are deposited into an account at a credit union that she can only access in person. We have an entire list of proven strategies to help you put shopping boundaries in place here at Clever Girl Finance.

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    The Effects Of A Shopping Addiction

    Shopping provides people with an instant reward and a short-lived mood boost.

    When you start to crave this feeling, where you make repeat purchases on an increasingly regular basis, the initial rush of buying something can start to give way to feelings of guilt and shame. This can lead to a vicious circle, where you attempt to counteract these negative emotions by shopping again in order to return to the temporary excitement.

    When you are addicted to shopping, the real-world effects of the addiction can include:

    • Financial strain shopping addiction can lead to debt from credit cards, store cards, loans and overdrafts
    • Relationship problems – it can place a significant strain on your relationships. This can happen for a number of reasons, including the secrecy, isolation and emotional pain caused by the addiction. If family or friends have noticed that theres an issue, this may have also started to put added pressure on your relationships
    • Worsening mental health – addiction itself can place a significant strain on your mental health, leaving you feeling sad, stressed and anxious. If you are using shopping as a way to deal with difficult emotions you were already experiencing, your addiction can also leave you feeling worse or even depressed overtime

    Conditions Related To Compulsive Shopping Shopping Addiction: The Ultimate Guide for How to Overcome ...

    Compulsive shopping has been linked to many other psychological conditions. Certain diagnoses may prompt compulsive spending. Shopping addiction may in turn affect ones mental health. It can be difficult to pinpoint where one issue begins and the other ends.

    People with shopping addiction often prioritize short-term gratification over long-term consequences. Because of this tendency, some researchers classify shopping addiction as an impulse control problem.

    Other experts claim shopping addiction is compulsive behavior. Compulsive hoarding is closely linked to compulsive spending in several ways. Both conditions typically involve:

    • An overwhelming desire to own certain items, even when those objects arent needed.
    • A fear of losing said item.
    • Unusual meaning and value placed on inanimate objects.

    Lastly, a 2014 study showed shopping addiction is highly comorbid with depression. Other research suggests shopping addiction helps individuals boost their serotonin and dopamine levels. In these cases, the impulse to buy may stem from neurological and emotional needs. Buying may provide temporary relief, but most people feel remorse after the sale.

    Therapy can treat compulsive spending and any related conditions. If you or a loved one struggles with a shopping addiction, you can find a therapist here.


  • Addicted to shopping? . University of Bergen News. Retrieved from
    • Client referrals

    Read Also: How To Talk To Someone About Their Addiction

    Stop Your Online Shopping Addiction

    With just a few initial steps youll be on your way to controlling and stopping your online shopping addiction. Never be afraid to ask for help from family and friends it often helps to have someone who keeps you in check and who wants the best for you. Additionally, there are plenty of self-help books and apps like BlockSite that can help curb the addiction. Just remember these things take time and to be patient with yourself. Its never easy but its always worth it. Good luck!

    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.

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    Treatment For Shopping Addiction

    Like other forms of addiction, compulsive shopping disorder is a disease. Further, people with shopping addiction may suffer from mental health concerns or other forms of addiction, such as alcohol use or compulsive gambling.

    Uncovering the root of the problem will help lower the risk that it will return later in life. Counseling and a supportive group of people who have been there themselves and truly understand can make all the difference in the world.

    1 Black, D. A Review of Compulsive Buying Disorder. World Psychiatry 6.1. 2007.

    What Is Emotional Spending


    Theres nothing wrong with treating ourselves every now and then. A spot of retail therapy can even do us some good, providing a much-needed momentary lift. But momentary is exactly what it is. The rush or high we get from shopping can only ever be short-lived.

    For this reason, the difference between healthy spending and shopping addiction comes down to how we use it and the resulting impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

    Shopping turns dangerous when we use it as a coping mechanism to regulate our emotions hence the term emotional spending. Some people shop to mask difficult emotions like stress, boredom, anxiety and low self-esteem. But shopping will never be able to provide us with long-term relief from these kinds of struggles.

    Instead, after the momentary rush, most people who compulsively spend are left with an overwhelming sense of guilt which leaves them feeling much worse in the long run.

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    Is It Possible To Stop An Addiction

    Yes, addiction and substance use disorders are treatable. Like other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as asthma or heart disease, addiction isnt curable but it can be successfully managed through proper treatment. Addiction has a relapse rate similar to other chronic diseases for example, the relapse rate for asthma or high blood pressure is 50-70%, while addiction has a relapse rate of around 40-60%. Addiction relapse is considered to be a normal part of the recovery process relapse does not mean that treatment has failed, but can mean that your treatment plan or treatment methods need to be re- evaluated.10

    Effective treatment plans benefit from being individualized and constantly adjusted to your changing needstaking into account all of your biological, psychological, and social considerations. Your plan may involve a continuum of care, starting from the moment you enter detox, which focuses on treating withdrawal and helping you become medically stable. Once youve completed detox, youll be ready to transition to additional rehabilitation. Though treatment lengths vary, research supports relatively longer periods of treatment for optimal treatment outcomes. As a formal treatment program comes to an end, youll then move on to aftercare, which is designed to promote lifelong sobriety.5,8,13,14

    Which Drugs Are Hardest To Quit

    Some substances are notoriously addictive and, some drugs may be harder to quit than others. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that some of the most commonly used addictive substances include marijuana, synthetic marijuana , prescription opioids, prescription stimulants , sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics.6

    Overcoming addiction is possible but it often requires a combination of approaches to achieve the best outcome. Treatment may include:10,11

    Remember that, if you are suffering from a drug overdose, be sure to call 911 immediately or make your way to the nearest physician.

    Read Also: What Are The Three C’s Of Addiction

    Drug Addiction Dependence And Withdrawal In Shopaholics

    Withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person, but according to the Chicago Tribune, many shopping addicts will experience withdrawal symptoms that are similar to the withdrawal symptoms experienced by people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you feel irritable, depressed or out of control after shopping, you may be experiencing withdrawal, and you may need to get help.

    Read Further To Learn More About How Shopping Addiction Develops Signs That Can Indicate A Shopping Addiction Its Effects On Other Co

    How to Stop Online Shopping Addiction?

    Shopping addiction is a pattern of compulsive shopping that resembles other addictive disorders in its causes, course of development and effects. Spending addiction is a broader term that encompasses shopping addiction and other patterns of overspending.

    People who develop shopping and spending addictions frequently have co-occurring mental health conditions and shop compulsively in an attempt to alleviate anxiety or improve their mood. However, as with other addictions, the cycle of compulsive spending tends to make people feel worse over time. Financial and interpersonal problems can intensify anxiety and depression. Fortunately, shopping addiction responds to treatment and can be overcome.

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    Shopping Despite Fears Guilt Or Desire To Change

    One of the classic signs of addiction is wanting to stop the behavior, but feeling unable to do so. This is also the case with compulsive shopping. People struggling with compulsive shopping often want to change their ways. They may recognize their habits as irrational and excessive, but they continue engaging in negative habits.

    Experiencing Financial Problems Due To Shopping Habits

    Compulsive spending often coincides with poor money management. People with this condition generally find it hard to stick to a budget or save money as a result of the compulsive need to seek comfort through shopping. They may rack up credit card debt quickly, and may max out one credit card, they quickly try to open up another one.

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    Signs You Have A Shopping Addiction What To Do

    I knew I had a shopping addiction problem right after I turned 21. I had just lost my second car to repossession and had a cell phone bill of close to a thousand dollars. Still, I was so excited to start my new job at Macy’s as a makeup artist. I didn’t care about my debt collectors. I had moved on because I now had a company credit card, and I could look worthy on the outside since I didn’t feel it inside.

    Fast forward to today. As of the time I’m writing this, I am happy to say my shopping addiction has been under control since my late twenties. I had an undiagnosed mood disorder, which led to manic spending. But with therapy and meds, I’ve been able to take my life back.

    Since addiction is personal and can look different for everyone, it’s hard to know if you have a problem. So in this article, I’ll go over what shopping addiction is, how to identify it, and how you can tackle it.

    How To Cut Down Your Shopping Addiction

    How to *STOP* a Shopping Addiction (tips to stop spending money) FRUGAL LIVING

    This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 85% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 87,106 times.

    Shopping addiction, sometimes called “shopaholism,” can have major negative consequences on your personal life, career, and finances. Because shopping is so deeply embedded in global capitalist culture, it can be hard to tell when you’ve crossed the line.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Psychological AssociationLeading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologistsGo to source Fortunately, you can learn to spot signs of shopping addiction, promptly change your buying habits, and seek professional help if necessary.

    Recommended Reading: How To Tell An Addict To Get Help

    Lots Of Credit Card Debt And You Don’t Know How You Got There

    There’s a difference between having a real emergency, not having anemergency fund and having to put those expenses on a . But if you wake up one morning and find yourself in thousands of dollars of debt and genuinely can’t recall how you got thereit’s probably time to acknowledge that you may be a shopping addict.

    You can take a look in your closet at all your beautiful things, but I promise that once you’re in a big debt hole, it will not feel like you got your money’s worth.

    Other people’s definitions of a spending addiction sound similar. Psychology Today gives the following shopaholic profile: 90% female, with the problem often starting in the late teens or early 20s.

    A shopping disorder descriptionfrom the Cleveland Clinic includes: preoccupation with and difficulty resisting buying unneeded items spending a lot of time doing research on items that may or may not be needed financial difficulties because of uncontrolled shopping and problems at work, school or home because of spending that’s gotten out of hand.

    Why People Get Addicted To Shopping

    The pathway to becoming a shopaholic is no different. You might shop for extra clothes because of a deep fear that you wont look good in some future scenario and be rejected by others. You may shop because you feel powerless in your life and the act of purchasing something is at least a decision you can make and provides some semblance of control. You may shop because deep down you think youre ugly or not valued, and so you think keeping up with the height of fashion helps distract people from the real you. You may just want to be accepted by the cool group.

    This is the pathway to addiction to any external stimulus, of which shopping is just one. It makes us feel good because when we do it our brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which are our internal feel-good drugs.

    The important thing to note is that our attraction to things we can get addicted to is often our bodys way of trying to survive, to relieve the pain of a stressor our psyche determines is threatening in some way. Its important to understand this so we stop beating ourselves up about it. However, in a strange twist of irony, the very thing we turn to in order to survive can become the very thing that hurts us, our key relationships and our legacy.

    It all starts with an underlying trauma or stressor as we psychologists like to call it. Why did you turn to alcohol/shopping/drugs/exercise in the first place? What was the underlying pain that you were subconsciously trying to solve?

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    Set Goals For Yourself Regarding Shopping

    Next, if you want to stop your shopping addiction, you should set goals for yourself. For example, set a goal for yourself that you are not going to spend any money at all on shopping until the weekend. Or, when you leave your house, leave all of your credit and debit cards behind. Only take the cash you are going to spend. This is a good way for you to control your spending. You cannot exceed your spending limit if you do not have cards in your wallet. You can set different goals for yourself using different time frames.

    For example, you can set goals for the amount of money you want to spend a single day. Then, you can set another goal for the amount of money you will spend in a week. After this, you can set another goal for the amount of money you will spend on shopping in a given month. Once you realize you can go without these purchases, these goals won’t seem like they are that difficult.

    Of course, there will be some purchases that are absolutely necessary. You need to budget for them accordingly. At the same time, if you go over budget in one area, you cannot spend as much money when you go shopping. Keep this in mind as you set goals for yourself. This is one of the best ways for you to take control of your spending habits.

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