Heather Fisher Professional Drug & Alcohol Interventionist

Shopping / Spending Addiction

Shopping addiction, compulsive spending, otherwise known as oniomania, affects about 18 million adults in the United States. It is the compulsion to spend money regardless of need or financial means. It is entirely normal to enjoy shopping as a recreational activity or to reward yourself occasionally. Still, compulsive shopping is a mental health disorder that an individual cannot control without help and can have severe consequences.

Signs of Shopping Addiction

As a nation, we are constantly marketed products and services everywhere we turn. In this age of the internet, it has become very easy to spend money without other people noticing or even having to put in much effort. While this can be an asset for many people, it is estimated that it is an extreme liability for 4.9% of Americans, further deepening them unto shopping addiction. Shopping in secret or trying to hide purchases from others could be a red flag that your spending is a problem.

For shopping addicts, purchasing things can distract from unpleasant emotions, offering a temporary high that helps individuals get rid of anxiety or feel better about themselves. Potential emotional risk factors for shopping addiction include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to control behavior and attitudes
  • Constantly feeling negative emotions
  • Struggling with constant high stress and cognitive overload

In general, the highest functioning and independent adults have learned to budget and plan their spending accordingly. Another sign that shopping may be a problem area in your life is a constant preoccupation with making purchases. The thought patterns can look like this:

  • Spending large amounts of time shopping or planning purchases
  • Thinking about shopping when you should be doing something else
  • Getting distracted in conversation because of intrusive thoughts related to shopping.

One of the main traits of any addiction is that it causes the individual to take part in the action or behaviors even when they know it is harmful. People with a shopping addiction may compromise their value system repeatedly in the following ways:

  • Spending more than you can afford to
  • Not paying bills to so
  • Taking on unmanageable amounts of debt
  • Taking or stealing money from others
  • Compromising your values to shop

Another characteristic of shopping addiction is feeling guilt or remorse after spending, making promises to stop, or verbally committing to change but still not following through and stopping the behavior on your own. For people with a shopping addiction, buying things constantly is something they have to do to feel normal when not shopping. People may experience anger, irritability, depression, and social withdrawal.

Shopping / Buying Addiction Screening

Adapted from Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale
Responses should be based on behavior over the past 90 days

NOTE: Addiction is progressive, chronic and 100% recoverable when treated.

Disclaimer: This screening is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis
consultation. Use this brief screening tool to help determine if further action is recommended.
For help in selecting the proper level of treatment in your area please contact our office.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health disorder or addiction such as compulsive spending, it may be time to seek outside treatment options. There are a variety of therapies and programs that can help an individual learn to correct and disengage in these behaviors. Shopping addictions often pose significant consequences to the individual themselves but the family system they are a part of as a whole. If you would like more information on how to get connected to spot and services for recovery, call Heather Fisher Recovery Services today for a free evaluation.