We all like to treat ourselves once in a while. For some people, doing so comes hand-in-hand with positive emotions – this is often known as retail therapy. In moderation, this is a harmless activity. But in excess, sometimes the act of shopping becomes compulsive. Although some people are known as ‘shopaholics’, they might actually have a clinical disorder.
Shopping addiction appears as compulsive shopping or pathological buying despite adverse consequences. It is a serious issue that should not be underestimated or dismissed. Compulsive buyers will continue their behaviour at all costs, which can be very dangerous if left untreated.
Any type of addiction can have harmful consequences to a person’s finances, health, and well-being. It can also damage relationships, causing marital issues and family conflict.
Shopping addiction is a type of mental health illness that requires professional treatment. At Addcounsel, we offer one-on-one support for addiction treatment and psychiatric disorders at our luxury London centre. Our dedicated team of experts can provide those suffering from behavioural addictions with the skills and coping strategies to overcome addiction and avoid relapsing after treatment.
If you have a problem with uncontrolled buying, it is important to reach out for help. There is no shame in having a shopping addiction, and you should not suffer in silence.
What Is Compulsive Buying Disorder?
Shopping addiction is known medically as compulsive buying behaviour or compulsive buying disorder. It is a legitimate mental disorder, categorised by “persistent, excessive, impulsive, and uncontrollable purchase of products in spite of severe psychological, social, occupational, financial consequences.”
Compulsive shopping is a behavioural addiction. Other types of behavioural addictions include sex, gambling, gaming, plastic surgery, and internet addiction. Behavioural addictions are similar to drug and alcohol addictions, which are known as substance use disorders (SUD).
Both behavioural and substance addictions cause a short-term rush of dopamine to the individual and cause havoc within the brain’s natural reward system. Over time, the brain adapts to this regular dopamine hit and begins to crave it at all costs. The only difference between the two types of addictions is that SUDs cause physical dependence and psychological dependence.
Behavioural addiction can be just as harmful as substance addiction, though. Whilst an addiction to shopping cannot cause long-term health issues like drug and alcohol abuse, it can cause financial and relationship problems. It can also damage a person’s psychological well-being.
Knowing the signs of shopping addiction can help many people understand whether they need professional help and treatment. If you suspect that you or someone else has a shopping addiction, talk to a doctor or contact a rehab centre like our own. At Addcounsel, we can provide confidential advice if you are concerned about shopping addiction.
What Are the Signs of Shopping Addiction?
As shopping is legal and customary in moderation, it can be challenging to recognise the signs of shopping addiction. Many people will attempt to hide their addiction due to shame and fear of judgement, making it harder to spot. Sadly, many people only realise that shopping addiction is impairing their life when they begin to experience financial trouble.
Common signs of shopping addiction include:
- Preoccupation with shopping and spending
- Making purchases in secret
- Buying to cope with hard feelings (emotional spending)
- Impulsive purchases
- Lying about purchases to friends and family
- Overspending and spending above means, i.e. getting into debt
- Feeling guilty about spending habits
- Arguing with loved ones about spending habits
Admitting that shopping addiction is present is the first step to recovery. Many people find it difficult to talk about their problems, but it is essential to know that shopping addiction is common. Telling a friend or confiding in a loved one might be the first essential step to getting the help needed.
What Are the Risk Factors for Shopping Addiction?
There are many reasons why people develop shopping addictions. Addiction is no one’s fault, but knowing risk factors can help many people make informed decisions, understand when to seek help, and potentially stop certain behaviours such as excessive shopping before it becomes a more significant problem.
Risk factors for a shopping addiction include:
- Low self-esteem
- Low impulse control
- Mental health issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), mood disorders, eating disorders, SUDs, and impulse control disorders
Many people use shopping to fill a void in their life, such as emotional pain, trauma, and mental illness. Behavioural addictions can have psychiatric comorbidity, which often co-occurs with other mental disorders.
Limiting shopping trips, making a spending budget, and enhancing mental health and well-being helps many people reduce the risk of shopping addiction. Simple steps such as physical activity can improve a person’s mood and self-esteem.
If you are engaging in compulsive shopping to mask difficult emotions or as a way to self-medicate existing mental health issues, talk to someone. At Addcounsel, we can plan bespoke treatment packages for mental health disorders and co-existing issues.
Is Shopping Addiction in Arabic Countries on the Rise?
An addiction to buying is prevalent worldwide, including in Arabic countries. After all, the largest mall in the entire world is the Iran Mall. Meanwhile, the Dubai Mall is the second biggest shopping centre, containing more than 1,200 shops.
In Dubai, 59% of residents consider designer labels to be a sign of a person’s social status. This is a common mindset worldwide that only fuels a desire to shop. In many ways, a shopping addiction seems inevitable.
In addition, the rise of internet shopping has grown significantly in Arabic countries and the Middle East, with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns cited as a contributing factor. By 2021, 2.41 billion people worldwide had shopped online. Although online shopping is convenient, it has only made buying more accessible, which can become habit-forming.
It is thought that 8-16% of people in the United Kingdom have a compulsive buying disorder. The figures for shopping addiction in Arabic countries are not clear. However, no one is immune from this risk.
As some behavioural addictions co-occur, it is possible for an individual with a shopping addiction to also have an internet addiction. However, they may just have an online shopping addiction. This is a new clinical disorder; however, we take it as seriously as any other.
How Do I Get Help for Shopping Addiction?
The first step to getting help for shopping addiction is admitting that there is a problem. It can be difficult to acknowledge a shopping addiction, but there is nothing to be ashamed about.
Unlike other mental health disorders, those with a shopping addiction don’t need to meet any set criteria before they can reach out for help and seek treatment. For this reason, it’s important that those suffering secure help as soon as possible. Doing so can prevent an addiction from escalating.
Although many people think they can overcome a shopping addiction alone, addictions of all types, such as online shopping addiction, internet addiction, and even substance addictions, require professional addiction treatment.
Addiction treatment consists of understanding contributing factors, identifying compulsive buying behaviours, and therapy for many people. In addition, many people find medication, financial counselling, support groups, and taking part in marital therapy beneficial.
How Can Addcounsel Help With Shopping Addiction?
Shopping addiction is a type of behavioural addiction, and, just like any other addiction, behavioural addictions require professional help and support to overcome. Why suffer in silence when you can receive help from experts at Addcounsel?
Here at Addcounsel, we have a dedicated team of professionals, including expert behavioural addiction specialists on hand to provide one-on-one care to those living with a shopping addiction.
Through treatment such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), our clients learn coping strategies and skills for a successful addiction-free future. Other restorative therapies for the mind include psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, spiritual counselling, and mindfulness. We also offer restorative activities for the body, such as yoga and pilates and provide access to a personal trainer and excursion opportunities.
Following treatment, our aftercare and recovery maintenance and group meetings help those in recovery develop the skills needed to re-enter real life. At Addcounsel, we provide support for as long as it is required.
We can also help those in our care manage any other disorders or existing mental health issues that might trigger a relapse.
Call Addcounsel Today
At Addcounsel, our clients benefit from 24-hour medically led care in private luxury accommodation. Our bespoke one-on-one service is designed for those aged 16 and over.
Irrespective of the addiction, we make each person’s recovery our number one priority. We understand that issues such as addiction can be sensitive subjects, so our clients receive compassionate and non-judgemental treatment with complete anonymity.
To find out more, call us today for free, confidential advice so you can start your shopping addiction recovery.