QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Alcohol, Nicotine, & Other Drug Use Department
Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking
behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.
Is compulsive shopping an addiction? Why would a person become a
compulsive shopper and how do you control it?
Compulsive shopping is not really an addiction because addictions involve
some degree of physical dependence. Rather it is a compulsive behavior
with some aspects of a lack of impulse control.
There are a multitude of ways that people can become compulsive shoppers
and our society encourages people to spend, spend, spend. Look in nearly
any medium today and you'll see messages like "Save $50!" (which, of course,
means that you're only spending a little less but the bottom line is that
money is flowing out of your pocket, not into it).
If you personally are experiencing difficulties controlling your spending,
ask yourself "What short-term reward or pleasure do I get from buying
something?" Do you buy things to help you feel better about yourself? Are
you a nobody unless
you're wearing the latest fashions?
To help control your compulsive shopping, try some of these tactics:
Control your available cash & credit. Leave credit cards, your check book,
ATM cards, and most of your cash at home, taking only a limited amount of
money, or access to it with you. If you see something you really would
like to buy, hold off and think about it for a day or two. Do you really
need it or are you buying it to feel good about yourself? If after
considering it for a while, you decide you need it, consider whether you
can afford it given your budget.
Another option is to consider getting some counseling either with a credit
counselor or with a professional counselor. Whichever option you choose,
making a decision to control yourself is an important first step. And if
at first you don't succeed, don't get discouraged. Continue trying
different options until you find one (or a combination of tactics) that
work for you. Good luck!