Many people, not just food or other addicts, have trouble with their shopping decisions. They may tend to purchase impulsively, or to be obsessive about comparing prices and products, or because of low self-esteem, feel guilty anytime they buy something for themselves, or panic if they ﬁnd the same item on sale the next day. These things are not necessarily addiction, but you may need to address them.
There is a point, however, when a tendency toward impulsive purchases or obsession about shopping crosses over into the realm of addiction. As with any addiction, the best tipoffs are loss of control, dishonesty, feeling guilty, or an intensive struggle required to maintain control. Compulsive spenders report issues similar to other addicts: low self-esteem, buying things to make them feel better, high expectations from parents or spouses, emotional deprivation, and lack of assertiveness.
Addictive shopping is usually a type of addiction to excitement, to the biochemical changes that take place with anticipation, fear, and a temporary relief from other problems.
Shoplifting One direction that later-stage shopping addiction can take is shoplifting. It may begin with taking something you need or want but can’t afford, but the excitement and fear are so stimulating that it can become a full-ﬂedged addictioh of its own. Drug addicts and bulimics often get into some kind of shoplifting, initially to pay for the drugs or food, or to get things they don’t have money for because of spending vast amounts on their addiction. If the shoplifting becomes more than just a means to get the drugs or food, it will need speciﬁc addressing as an addictive behavior if overall recovery is a goal.
Working a Twelve-Step program can help your tendency to spend compulsively. As you feel better about yourself and learn to live life on a spiritual basis, you are less likely to need things to make you feel OK.
It would be difficult to continue to spend compulsively and experience the rewards of freedom in recovery If you buy things to try to make yourself feel better, you need to ﬁnd ways to work on spirituality and self-esteem. Some people have such a problem with spending that they consider it a primary addiction and go to fellowships like Debtors Anonymous (see that module).
Updated 6 Sep 2015
Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.