Shopping addiction may not involve a chemical substance, but it can still wreak havoc in your life if you don’t get it under control. There are varying terms used to describe this condition, including shopping addiction, compulsive shopping and compulsive buying disorders. Experts may also disagree over how to classify it, but most agree it is a real behavioral addiction, a type of addiction involving an activity or behavior rather than a drug or alcohol. Like a drug addict, you have become dependent on the rush you get from shopping. So what can you do to put a stop to it?
Is There Rehab for Shopping Addiction?
It may sound like a joke, but compulsive buying is real and it has real consequences. Studies show that as much as 6 percent of the population struggles with some degree of shopping addiction. Most people who buy compulsively also struggle with anxiety or mood disorders. Many also have an eating disorder or a substance use disorder. Having a problem with shopping and buying can have the immediate effect of giving you money problems, but it also affects you in less tangible ways. Because of the serious nature of the problem, rehab is possible for shopping addiction. If you find that despite your best efforts and the following tips that you can’t cut back, consider looking for a rehab facility or therapist that specializes in helping behavioral addicts.
5 Tips to Cut Back Now
If you have recognized compulsive buying in your own behavior, you have taken the first step toward correcting it. You can try to cut back on buying without professional help, but if it doesn’t work, recognize that you need a greater level of support.
- Tell someone. We are most successful at making changes when we can be held accountable. Some people are able to be self-accountable, but most of us need someone to help us. Tell at least one person whom you trust that you are trying to cut back on spending. Ask that person to keep tabs on you and to follow up with your commitment.
- Practice avoidance. You don’t have to be a hero and test yourself by going to the mall with cash and credit cards. Give yourself a break. Stay away from the places you like to shop the most. Limit your shopping to necessary trips, like to the grocery store. Make your online shopping site off limits.
- Check emotional triggers. All addicts have triggers, and most are emotional. Sure, the sight of the freeway exit to the mall is a trigger, but what about the feelings that lead you to shop? Do you buy when you’re stressed, sad or anxious? Recognize these triggers and use alternatives to cope with them. These could include talking with a friend, going for a jog or digging into a work project for a distraction.
- Use cash only. Credit cards feed shopping addiction because you don’t really see how much you’re spending. Destroy all but one credit card, which you should keep for emergency needs. Use cash when you go shopping and you will see how much money you are actually spending.
- Make a realistic budget. Planning and sticking with a monthly or weekly budget is a great way to track your spending and keep you honest. Be realistic, though. Don’t create a budget that has you skimping on everything. If it is too stringent, you won’t stick with it.
Shopping addiction can drain your bank account, multiply your debt, destroy your relationships and leave you feeling anxious, depressed and stressed out. It is a serious issue, and if you feel out of control and unable to tame your spending, you need to seek professional help.