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Is My Loved One Addicted to Shopping?

It can be hard to consider the fact that someone you love might be suffering from a behavioral addiction. Especially if the individual thinks there is nothing wrong, it could be up to you to notice the signs and suggest help for them when necessary. Below are some of the ways you can tell that someone you love may be addicted to shopping.

Behaviors of a Shopping Addict

According to Indiana University, “Shopaholics, when they are feeling ‘out of sorts,’ shop for a ‘pick-me-up.’ They go out and buy to get a high, or get a ‘rush’ just like a drug or alcohol addict.” This may not be an issue if the individual does it from time to time or buys within their means, but shopping addicts will engage in this behavior to the point of harm. They will spend money set aside for other things and even take out multiple credit cards in order to continue buying. And, in the same way that drug addicts do, shopping addicts will need to buy more expensive things or more items in general each time, in order to combat tolerance.

shopping addict

A shopping addict will be secretive and like to shop alone.

Other behaviors of a shopping addict include:
  • Being extremely secretive
    • Your loved one will likely hide the fact that they have multiple credit cards from you and even try to conceal massive debts they have incurred by buying out of their means.
  • Shopping alone more often than not
    • This occurs because the individual does not want others to know how much they spend.
  • Keeping clothing and other purchases hidden, often with the tags still on
    • Compulsive shoppers do not buy things because they need them or even because they want them. They will do so because the rush of buying things is often a “balm for… depression, anxiety, and loneliness” until the behavior becomes just that: compulsive.
  • Claiming to not remember buying certain items when asked
  • Denying that they have a problem or becoming extremely upset when asked about the issue
  • Being unable to save money, even when they know they should
  • Only ever wanting to shop in order to have fun or constantly buying themselves things whenever they feel down or want to reward themselves

The Presence of Another Mental Disorder

It is extremely common for someone with compulsive buying disorder to also suffer from an anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or another co-occurring condition. These issues feed into the addiction and vice-versa, causing the individual to continue engaging in the problematic behavior even when they know they shouldn’t. Especially for someone who has been diagnosed with one of the disorders listed above, behaviors that match the symptoms of shopping addiction are likely just that.

If you realize that your loved one exhibits many of the symptoms of this disorder, seek treatment for them either in the form of therapy or a support group. One of the hardest things to do is get a person to realize that they need help for an addiction. But because compulsive buying disorder hurts the individual as well as those with whom they share their lives and their finances, this step toward recovery is necessary.