Addiction is any habit that you continue to do despite harmful consequences. The brain changes chemically and physiologically when a person has an addiction. When a person is suffering with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, his or her brain loses the ability to control the normal functions of their body. The brain becomes physically dependent on the drugs or alcohol and a person experiences painful withdrawals without continued use of them.
The compulsive shopper becomes psychologically dependent on thoughts of shopping and gets an intense pleasurable feeling from buying. A person with bipolar can go through manic episodes and experience compulsive buying behavior. This happens because the person is unable to control his or her desire to shop.
According to an article on compulsive buying behavior by Donald W. Black (2007) for the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes Health, compulsive buying disorder is characterized by excessive shopping and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment. It states compulsive buying disorder “is associated with significant psychiatric comorbidity, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other disorders of impulse control.”
A person with a shopping addiction shops to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety or other mental health problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. The person’s brain might feel a slight reward that makes him or her shop repeatedly for the similar effect. The compulsive buyer cannot control his or her ability to stop buying. Relationships, his or her career, and finances are affected and the shopper’s spending causes debt, disorder, and chaos.
When a person with a shopping addiction shops, an excess amount of dopamine is released in the brain. The shopper feels ecstatic from the release of dopamine and is actually high, even without drugs or alcohol. The feeling does not last long and the compulsive shopper continues the destructive cycle of spending.
Some warning signs of a shopping addiction include:
- Buying unnecessary things
- Inability to avoid shopping
- Consumed with getting more money to spend
- Continued shopping despite consequences
- Stress or guilt from buying
The Internet makes shopping convenient, but this easy access is harmful to a person with a shopping addiction and can certainly make recovery more challenging. If you or a loved one is struggling with a shopping addiction, get help today. Treatment is available and recovery is possible.
At Corner Canyon, our doors are open to adult clients seeking healing and transformation to put their lives on the path of recovery. Our residential treatment center offers a warm and welcoming home environment paired with exceptional individualized clinical care utilizing the latest in scientific advancement for treating both mental health and addiction treatment. For information on our program outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, call us today: 866-399-3469