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While a. lot of people like shopping at weekends, during holidays, or whenever they have some time off, others may experience an urge to keep purchasing items all the time. This condition, known as shopping addiction, may seem harmless initially, but it can adversely affect the overall life with time. To satisfy their cravings, a shopping addict may routinely overspend or take out several store credit cards, ultimately leading to financial debt.

The compulsion to shop is either seasonal or indicative of an ongoing disorder and can affect your life as any other addiction, such as alcohol abuse. Stretching beyond simply going for a shopping spree now and then, if you fall into a shopping addiction, you may struggle to control your urge to spend money constantly.

If you or someone around you is suffering from this behavioural issue, remember that help with shopping addiction is readily available. Multiple rehab centres deal exclusively with this type of addiction through various evidence-based treatments. Keep reading this article to learn more about stopping your shopping addiction.

Shopping addiction usually comes with a distinct set of symptoms and specific patterns of behaviour related to shopping. While most addicts experience euphoria and pleasure following a shopping trip, these feelings are short-lived and usually subside with time. Soon, the long-term symptoms include financial issues due to constant spending beyond one’s means, feelings of guilt due to excessive shopping, and a strain on personal relationships.

Other signs and symptoms of shopping addiction include the following: 

  • Using shopping, either online or in person, as a way to manage high pressure, stress, or other negative experiences in life
  • Experiencing improvement in mood due to the temporary euphoria following a purchase
  • Frequently overspending beyond your budget while shopping
  • Continuing to purchase new things despite knowing that you do not have the financial capacity to continue
  • Shopping impulsively not because you need something but simply because you have an intense compulsion to do so
  • Throwing away or hiding the things you have purchased in an attempt to hide your shopping from family members and friends
  • Trying to limit your shopping trips but constantly failing to do so
  • Feeling shame or guilt about the money, you have spent on shopping

Each shopping addict is different: some may focus their efforts on purchasing a particular class of products, while others may pick up literally any item they feel attracted to. One addict may obsess over collecting tech products, while another may go crazy over buying new clothes. Like with any addiction, each individual has a unique set of traits and a different story associated with their addictive behaviours.

To simplify understanding and treatment, experts have categorised shopping addiction into different types. Mentioned below are the common types of a compulsive spenders:

Bargain Seekers

This type of shopping addict will keep purchasing items on sale or at a reduced price for any reason whatsoever. After making these purchases, the bargain seekers may feel like a winner.

Show-offs

Such addicts are a sucker for high-value purchases, and their self-worth is often associated with their financial extravagance.

Trophy Hunters

These addicts are always searching for the best and most unique items on the market. Such items may not be the most expensive but must be rare enough to attract their attention. The satisfaction they obtain after finding and purchasing something unique satisfies their urges.

Collectors

Such addicts seek different versions or iterations of the same items, such as different series or versions of one particular product class.

Self-medicators

This class of people resort to shopping as a way to deal with adverse situations or negative moods. They usually have little interest in what they are buying specifically and are only concerned with the relief that comes with it.

Shopping Bulimics

Just like people with bulimia nervosa eat to an uncomfortable extent before purging themselves to control their calorie count, shopping bulimics follow the same pattern. Such individuals go for large or frequent purchases before returning them to get refunds. Such behaviour is their own way of ensuring that their original behaviour does not cause any financial troubles for them.

Depending on the severity of addiction and its duration, a rehab may offer various bespoke treatment plans to help clients overcome these dangerous behaviours. These treatment plans include a broad range of medication-based and therapeutic options that can relieve the compulsion to shop. Some of these interventions include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT involves closely working with a therapist better to understand the negative impacts of shopping addiction on life. A therapist can also make the client view how their emotions, behaviours, and thoughts contribute to their urge to shop excessively and compulsively. The therapy either takes place in a one-to-one setting where the client communicates directly with the therapist or may involve a group setting where several people facing similar issues come together to help each other out.

Regardless of the choice of setting, regular CBT sessions will help clients learn positive coping techniques to manage their urges. At the same time, they can also learn other methods to enjoy the same pleasure that shopping gives them without harming their everyday life.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Because shopping addiction directly associates your thoughts and feelings with repeated behaviours, DBT can help overcome it. DBT aims to help clients manage their compulsive shopping urges by combining individual therapy and group-based skills. It also relies on emotional regulation and mindfulness as methods to resist shopping temptations.

Medication

Shopping addiction co-occurs with other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. For people with a dual diagnosis, experts may prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms of these psychiatric ailments first, which can benefit the subsequent addiction treatment. Clients may use antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications alongside CBT and DBT sessions, depending on the individual issues.

12-Step Addiction Treatment Programme

Some severe cases of shopping addiction that may not respond to medications or therapy may benefit from the 12-step addiction treatment programme. These programmes equip clients with the necessary tools to practice sobriety. Such programmes can also prevent relapses after getting initial treatment and positively affect other aspects of life, such as relationships and finances.

Support Groups

Clients can also keep in touch with several support groups to maintain sobriety and seek continuing support. One such support group is Shopaholics Anonymous UK which follows a 12-step approach to help clients achieve their long-term goals and stick to the path to recovery.

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