The Leading Expert in Treatment for Alcohol and Substance Abuse
and Founder of The Hills Treatment Center
Shopping Addiction

Omniomania, also referred to as Shopaholism may sound ridiculous but is actually a disorder that affects a significant amount of people. Shopping Addiction is the compulsion to spend regardless of the negative consequences socially, physically, emotionally, and financially. Shopaholics often spend well beyond their means and rack up thousands of dollars in debt, and many times become addicted to debt. Compulsive Spending often results in serious financial issues, marriage or relationship problems and depression. Some Shoppers even become hoarders. Like any other addiction, these consequences are not enough incentive for the Shopper to stop or moderate on their own.

While the underlying motive behind every compulsive shopper may be different, the euphoric feeling achieved by making purchases is universal. Just like chemical addiction, the shopper experiences a sensation when making a purchase, likened to the rush of a drug. The act of making a purchase or even just planning a shopping excursion releases endorphins and dopamine into the brain that produce the "high" shopping addicts crave. Often plagued by feelings of inadequacy or loneliness, spending can create the comfort these people desire. The high achieved from shopping eventually becomes detrimental to the individual because without shopping their brain cannot produce the correct balance of dopamine so the person suffers from depression. Depression as the result of taking shopping away is classified as withdrawal, a characteristic of every addiction.

Withdrawals in shopping addiction happen when the person stops shopping. Like an Overeater, the Compulsive Shopper will binge via spending and later feel extreme guilt and sadness. They also experience shame around their addiction and the overwhelming sense of being out of control. Shoppers sometimes are so out of control they harm relationships by asking for money from loved ones and making empty promises where shopping is concerned. Spending money on personal items takes precedence over every day financial obligations such as paying bills and rent. When the addict stops spending money they go into withdrawal. In order to cope with the withdrawal addicts shop more, get deeper into debt, and become more depressed and shameful as a result. Addiction is this style is cyclical; the cycle doesn't stop without help.

Though some people scoff at the idea of such a disorder, there are those that recognize the issue as a serious addiction and there is help. Some experts have grouped Compulsive Shopping with Impulsive Control Disorder and believe that therapy is an effective treatment. Simply cutting off the Shopper's supply of money will not make the problem go away. As with other addictions, it is necessary to get to the root of the problem. Others may seek recovery from a 12 Step group for over spenders. With all addiction treatment honesty about one's self is key. Compulsive Shoppers are encouraged to confront their creditors and pay their bills. Taking responsibility is part of the recovery process. Ultimately as with other addictions, Shoppers in recovery are seeking a better way of life.

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