For most of us, addiction means drugs and alcohol and even cigarettes. There are other forms of addiction, however, that can be just as damaging for the individual. While the majority of people like to go shopping, when it becomes an addiction, and a person has to get their daily fix no matter what the consequences, it can cause financial chaos and lead to disruptive behaviours such as theft and the breakdown of relationships.
Because of its nature, a shopping addiction or oniomania is often not taken seriously. But when someone has an addiction of this type it can hide some fairly disturbing behavioural problems that generally need professional help to solve.
People with a shopping addiction get a drug-like high from purchasing things. In the USA alone, it affects around 18 million people. This compulsion is present even if the money isn’t – something that leads many with the disorder to turn to crime, including shoplifting, to support their habit.
Family members can get into large amounts of debt because they can’t control their addiction. Someone who has a predilection for designer clothes will often hoard and may not even wear what they have bought.
Many people with a shopping addiction disorder will concentrate one type of product or area such as fashion or gadgets. While some research suggests that more women than men are likely to develop this kind of behaviour, other research shows that it there is no real sex difference. Men are just as likely to be shopaholics as women.
Not only can a shopping addiction grow to the extent that a person has to turn to crime to fund it, there are other mental health issues that go hand in hand with it. A person might become depressed or suffer from an anxiety disorder as they realise things are out of control. They may have low self-esteem and even consider suicide as a way out of their addiction.
For the partners of someone with a shopping addiction coping can be difficult to handle. A sufferer may not be able to face up to the fact that they have a problem and will lie and conceal things. Financial problems can get on top of both partners and head to a breakdown in the relationship. This can lead the person with a shopping addiction to become more stressed out and increase their activity, getting into more trouble.
As with any addiction, there are huge problems to overcome and a treatment like cognitive behaviour therapy can help. Unlike other addictions, the triggers are there and can’t be avoided. We all need to shop, for groceries and other things, on a daily or weekly basis. Often the major solution to helping someone with a shopping addiction is to remove their financial support or carefully control it. This can work if the person is open to treatment but is not insurmountable hurdle to get over for someone who is keen on indulging their habit.
A shopping addiction generally has some more deep seated problems at their core. It can stem from a number of different mental health issues and the shopping is merely an extension of this. Getting help sooner rather than later is key to making a full recovery.