Shopping addiction is a real condition that affects the lives of thousands of people each year. While everyone wants to save more and spend less, those who are addicted to shopping find it difficult to tear themselves away from sale racks and easy credit card purchases. Often, this can result in detrimental mountains of debt that take a lifetime to climb out from under.
Certain people are more susceptible to shopping addictions than others. Those who are depressed or find comfort in material things may feel compelled to shop whenever their mood changes, or whenever they are in a stressful situation. Women in marriages of convenience are often depicted as being the stereotypical shopping addicts, though men can be just as prone to this condition.
Unfortunately, society does not recognize shopping addiction as a serious medical problem. Most people see shopping addicts as impulsive and narcissistic, when in reality the addiction is driving these outward actions. Like a chemical dependency, shopping addiction triggers pleasure responses in the brain, leading the person to continue engaging in the behavior even though they know it’s bad or wrong.
If you know someone who suffers from a shopping addiction, you can help them overcome their problem and get their financial life back on track. First, you need to be nonjudgemental. Look at shopping addiction the same way you would look at alcoholism. Treat the person with kindness and compassion. You want them to know that you’re trying to help them, not judge them.
The next thing you need to do is remove temptation. Take over the finances for a while and remove the checkbook, the credit cards, and the debit cards from the persons possession. This act will leave them feeling out-of-control and can result in violent or angry reactions, so it’s best to do this step as gently as possible. Realize that for a while after removing their sources of money they will feel hurt and upset. It’s similar to a substance addict going through a withdrawal.
If the addict doesn’t seem to get better by having their money removed, you should look into medications that may help. Often, shopping addiction is caused by depression or anxiety, so looking into antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may help treat the underlying cause of the problem. Have the addict speak with a medical professional to determine if this is the case.
If all else fails, try a 12-step program. There are support groups for shopping addicts and their families that can help you get your loved one into a healthier state of mind.
Shopping addiction is a real disease, one that affects the finances, not the body. You can help your loved one get over their addiction and get their financial house back in order, but it takes time. Recognizing the problem is the first step to helping cure it.