How Shopping Can Lead to an Addiction
Belinda loves to shop. Her love for shopping started after her sister passed away. She and her mother would go shopping as a way to honor her sister, who loved fashion, makeup, and dressing well.
It wasn’t long before Belinda felt the thrill of shopping herself and began to shop without her mother. She would shop because it was exciting. It took her mind off the loss of her sister, and there was an excitement to looking good and gaining the social acceptance of her friends.
This in turn helped her feel welcome and appreciated rather than alone and feeling the loss of her sister. It seemed that the answer to feeling better was buy, buy, and buy more clothes. Rather than drinking away their problems, Belinda would spend them away.
An addiction to shopping is known as oniomania. Sadly, of all the addictions, it is the most reinforced by the media, advertising, billboards, and consumerism in general. About 6% of the U.S. population has a shopping addiction, which usually begins in late adolescence.
A shopping addiction becomes the main way a person might be coping with stress to the point when it becomes excessive, severely affecting finances, relationships, and functioning.
Almost Anything Can Become an Addiction
The truth is almost anything can become an addiction. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition, published in May of 2013, an addiction is anything an individual has lost power over.
This can certainly be true with the feelings of pleasure when you take home a brand new blouse, one you know you’re going to where to your friend’s birthday party on the weekend. There are behaviors that bring such a rush of pleasure to the brain, such as gambling, shopping, or sexual activity that an addiction develops. Sadly, this is true for many people around the world.
An Addiction to Behavior, in This Case Shopping, Is Characterized By:
- An inability to abstain from the behavior
- Impairment in behavioral control
- Craving or hunger for the behavior, just as one would crave drugs
- The diminished recognition of severe problems as a result of the repeated behavior
- A dysfunctional emotional response.
Now, it’s true that drug treatment is not going to “treat” an addiction to gambling. However, it can offer education on how addictions develop, new coping mechanisms to replace behavior that perpetuates addiction, and new thinking patterns.
Drug addiction treatment can offer education on compulsions and how to resist those compulsions so that they don’t become a pattern of self-destruction and ill health.
Certainly, compulsions for certain behavior are similar to the compulsions that drive drug use or drinking. A compulsion begins when there is a loss of control and an individual spends large amounts of time engaging in activity related to behavior, to the point where he or she is neglecting social, occupational, or family responsibilities.
Like other addictions, a shopping addiction can come with high costs. Just like an addiction to alcohol can ruin relationships, a marriage, one’s career, and one’s family life, a shopping addiction can cause family arguments, estrangements, and of course, financial troubles.
If you’re troubled by an addiction to shopping, it’s important to contact a mental health professional. Through treatment for the addiction, a shopaholic can learn new coping skills, learn the tenets of addiction, create a budget for shopping, and learn to make financial choices that are more responsible.
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