Diagnosing Shopping Addiction

In a culture like ours, materialism is simply part of the landscape. Stores always seem to have some new sale to advertise, regardless of time or season. There are plenty of people who can handle the lure of a sale, content to buy a few planned items or one sought-after bargain. Others, though, have a hard time controlling the impulse to consume, causing them to wonder if they’re crossing the line into “shopaholic” territory. How can you tell if you or someone you love is addicted to shopping? We all have to make certain purchases and many of us indulge in a little “retail therapy” from time to time, but what are the signs of a serious shopping addiction?

Compulsive buying disorder affects between five percent and 15 percent of the population, according to a recent article in The Atlantic. And it’s not only a problem for adults. Adolescents are at risk, too, with approximately 3.5 percent fitting the description of a shopping addict.

It may not be a recognized addiction in the same way that drug abuse or alcoholism are, but there are still ways to determine if you have problem with compulsive buying. One of the best indicators is the Compulsive Buying Scale, a test that screens for problematic behavior. Some of the questions are similar to those asked of potential substance abusers, focusing on a compulsion to engage in the behavior, feelings of shame or guilt associated with the behavior and an unwillingness to stop despite negative consequences.

Where does the problem come from, though? There are certain behaviors that have been linked to an increased risk for shopping addiction, including smoking, drug use and experiencing mood disorders. There may also be a genetic component, although current research is inconclusive. Some experts hypothesize that shopping simulates drug-like responses in those who indulge, with each episode triggering a release of dopamine that stimulates the brain’s reward centers.

Addiction Help at The Oaks at La Paloma

Whatever the cause, there is help available. If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addiction or co-occurring mental health disorder, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about process addiction treatment, financing or insurance.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.