People use what is called retail therapy as a way of enjoying themselves. The normally buy items for which they have a need or have developed a desire for. Compulsive or addictive shopping is not like that, it is a form of behaviour designed to avoid unpleasant reality, and is accompanied by a high which causes the sufferer to lose control and buy many items for which they have no need. The adrenaline rush, the fantasy which surrounds the episode and everything which precedes the actual spending spree all add to the sense of unreality which brings a false sense of freedom from life’s problems.
How common is it?
It is difficult to ascertain the full extent of this problem as statistics have not been compiled, although it is known that more people are identifying this as a problem and seeking professional help.
How do I know if I have it?
As with all addictions, the resulting overwhelming sense of shame, remorse and guilt accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, lead to despair. Often the remedy for the despair is more addictive behaviour resulting in more self destructive feelings. The consequences of shopping addiction are obvious: high levels of debt, fear of discovery and retribution leading to more denial and desperate acts to cover up the behaviour. For those closely connected to the sufferer life becomes frightening and unpredictable with a growing sense of uselessness and the belief that the sufferer is deliberately causing chaos and a feeling of desperation sets in. Complete the questionnaire on this web site to help you decide if you have a problem
Can it be cured?
Many sufferers are multi addicted, often abusing prescribed drugs or alcohol in addition to the compulsive spending. The despair can be ended through successful treatment and people can be restored to normal life. As with other addictions, success follows an honest admission of the problem and the seeking of help from others.