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Are you a compulsive shopper?

Amazon, Wish, eBay, Craigslist, Touch of Modern and many others…

I don’t know about you, but many nights when l get home l find myself trying to dial down the day and next to watching the aquarium channel l find myself surfing the net especially on many of the shopping sites. Much of the merchandise looks so appealing and very tempting to click that buy button. Within the past couple of years l have purchased items via the internet that l did not need, but before l knew it, l had purchased something worthless.

Was that purchase compulsive or has the online shopping become addictive?

People who gain pleasure and escape negative feelings through shopping call it retails therapy.

This phase implies that you can get the same benefit from buying yourself something as you would from engaging in counseling or therapy.

While the term retail therapy is often used in a tongue-in-cheek manner, some people, including shopaholics, actively make time to shop simply as a way to cope with negative feelings. Although there are circumstances when a new purchase can actually solve a problem, this is not typically thought of as retail therapy. Usually, the thing that people buy when they are engaging in retail therapy are unnecessary, and the corresponding financial cost may actually reduce resources for solving other life problems.

Research indicates that around three-quarters of compulsive shoppers are willing to admit their shopping is problematic, particularly in areas of finances and relationships. Of course, this may reflect the willingness of those who participate in research to admit to having these problems.

Shopping addiction is hard to live with because we all need to shop to some extent. If someone else in your family can take responsibility for shopping for essentials, such as food and household items, it can help to delegate the responsibility to them, at least temporarily while you seek help. It is a good idea to get rid of credit cards and keep only a small amount of emergency cash on you, so you can’t impulse buy. Shopping only with friends or relatives who do not compulsively spend is also a good idea, as they can help you to curb your spending.

Finding alternative ways of enjoying your leisure time is essential to breaking the cycle of using shopping as a way of trying to feel better about yourself.

Overcoming any addiction requires learning alternative ways of handling the stress and distress of everyday existence. This can be done on your own, but often people benefit from counseling or therapy. There is a lot you can do to reduce the harm of compulsive spending and get the problematic behaviour under control. Developing your own spending plan can be a good first step.

Getting help in understanding the emotional roots of your shopping addiction, as well as finding ways to overcoming your tendency to use shopping to cope, are important aspects of recovery from this confusing condition.

Your relationship may have suffered as a result of your over-shopping. Psychological support can also help you make amends and restore trust with those who may have been hurt by your behavior. You may also find that therapy helps you to deepen your relationships by leading you to better understand how to connect with other people in ways that don’t revolve around money. Depending on how serious your shopping addiction is, you may also find it helpful to get financial counseling, particularly if you have run up debts by spending more than you earn.

You could make an appointment with a financial advisor or consultant at your bank to discuss options for restricting your access to easy spending, to explore strategies for paying off bank debts and bank charges, and to put money into less accessible savings accounts as a way of interrupting the easy access to cash that tends to fuel the addiction.

There are all kinds of solutions and advice when it comes to shopping addictions, here is a quick summary of what you should do to help curb your addiction with shopping.

Destroy all credit cards and delete all digitally stored credit card numbers. Instead, pay for needed items in cash or debit card.

Tell your loved ones about your problem and ask them to help you in your recovery.

Write a shopping list and stick to it.

Avoid things like online stores or TV shopping channels.

Whenever you feel the urge to shop, acknowledge it, and then do something constructive.

Consider ways to make it more difficult for you to spend money impulsively.

Most importantly, seek treatment.

If you believe you may have a shopping addiction, discuss possible treatments with your doctor.

Vincent Black/MS

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