Effects of Shopping Addiction Shopping is a necessary part of life. We shop for food, clothing, cars, homes, or anything that may be a necessity to survive. If shopping is necessary, how can it also be an addiction? The answer is the same as with other addictions. According to Wikipedia, addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors. Oniomania, which is a Greek word meaning “for sale” is the technical term for the compulsive desire to shop, more commonly referred to as shopping addiction.
Shopping addiction may be considered an impulse control disorder, an obsessive compulsive disorder, a bipolar disorder, or even a clinical addiction. Due to recent research it is now being compared to alcoholism, eating disorders and drug abuse. There is growing evidence that it is a significant and worsening problem with serious consequences both emotional and financial. Shopping addiction is initially triggered by a mild need to feel special and less lonely. The failure of excessive shopping to actually fulfill these needs often lead to a vicious cycle of escalation.
This then causes the person to experience the highs and lows associated with other addictions. The high of the shopping may be followed by a sense of disappointment, and of guilt, precipitating a further cycle of impulse buying in the quest for a sense of special identity. Now that the addicted person is increasingly feeling negative emotions like anger and stress, they attempt to self medicate through further shopping, followed again by regret or depression once they return home, which leads to an urge for another shopping spree.
This person is now an addict and shopping is the drug of choice. The consequences of shopping addiction can be devastating, with marriages, longterm relationships, and jobs. Other consequences are financial which can include ruined credit history, theft and bankruptcy or extreme debt. The emotional effects range from anxiety due to stress that can also result to physical health problems and ruined relationships, or even suicide. Research has shown that compulsive shoppers and spenders also suffer from mood disorders, substance abuse or eating disorders.
According to Elizabeth Hartney, “People with compulsive shopping addiction often have concurrent substance and or behavioral addiction problems, or “cross over” to other addictions at some point in their lives. Studies show that alcohol problems occur in 28% to 46% of compulsive buyers; other substance use disorders occur in 13% to 20% of compulsive shoppers; paraphilias and sex addictions occur in 10% to 13% of compulsive shoppers; and pathological gambling occurs in 5% to 20% of compulsive shoppers. ”
Impairment in relationships may occur as a result of excessive spending and efforts to cover up debt or purchases. Persons who engage in compulsive shopping or spending may become pre-occupied with that behavior and spend less and less time with important people in their lives. It is also common for an addict to begin lying and hiding their purchases from their family and keeping their spending to themselves. Relationships often suffer as friends are not repaid, spouses and family members are not repaid, and necessary home bills can not be paid.
Family members do without because of the shopping addict’s out of control use of money, which in turn puts a strain on their relationship. The trust between the addict and members of the family is often lost and this causes the addict to exclude themselves which increases the urge to fulfill the void. The anxiety or depression experienced may result in the interference of work and other social activity. Financial problems may occur if money is burrowed or there is excessive use of credit to make purchases. Most addict’s find themselves in deep financial debt due to compulsive spending.
They then are put into situations where there debt has become overwhelming and put them in dire restraints, leaving them unable to pay off bank loans, school fees, mortgages and other overhead costs. Many addicts lose their jobs due to the fact that they are unable to fulfill their duties. In the case of a shopping addict, they may steal from their employer which results in them being fired. Shopping addiction can also have an effect on students. If a student is suffering from shopping addiction, their level of concentration decreases and their grades suffer.
The student becomes less motivated because they become fixated on their addiction to shop. There is also the risk of the student stealing from classmates or school property to support their addiction. This in turn can tarnish friendships and result in the student becoming expelled from school. According to Andrea Allen, “The creation of a condition such as compulsive buying might be associated with controversy and criticized by some as creating a trivial disorder; “medicalizing” a “moral” problem or creating a new disorder in order to sell more pharmaceuticals. Many people still classify compulsive shopping to not be an “addiction” which makes it a controversial topic. Some think it is an excuse for people to label their moral problem as a disorder. Some think that doctors may be trying to make it a medical disorder to sell medication to consumers believed to be suffering from such a disorder. Truth is almost anything can become an addiction, once it is something that gives you a physical or mental high and you become dependent on that feeling to fill voids and function from day to day.
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