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Is Shopping Addiction a Real Problem?

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Is Shopping Addiction a Real Problem?

Addiction occurs when a person cannot stop engaging in a behavior that has a negative impact on his or her life. Shopping is a potentially addictive behavior that can create real problems. Addiction may be present in an individual who demonstrates any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Preoccupation
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Repeated failed efforts to cut back or stop
  • Interference with daily functioning
  • Inability to stop
  • Reduced social, occupational, or recreational activities
  • Continued behaviors even when a person has suffered social, emotional, or physical problems
  • Compulsion to continue


While the characteristics of addiction are most often applied to a person abusing a substance such as drugs or alcohol, addiction symptoms apply to a person who has a shopping addiction.

Symptoms of a Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is a recognized addiction, and warning signs or indicators include the following:

  • Overspending. A person consistently spends over his or her personal budget. The side effects of this type of spending are that a person gets into financial trouble, may abuse credit cards, and will be unable to pay basic expenses.
  • Compulsive buying. Buying simply for the sake of buying occurs when a person purchases something that they either don’t need or already have. These buyers often don’t understand why they wouldn’t purchase many of the exact same products or a very similar product.
  • Ongoing. A shopping addict does not wait for holidays or special occasions to buy. Shopping is incorporated as a regular activity and often happens each day.
  • Hiding the problem. Once shopping addicts realize that others do not view shopping in the same way that they do, they may start to hide their purchases. Shopping addicts may go as far as to have secret credit card accounts.
  • The cycle of addiction. Just as some events are triggers for alcohol or drug users, there are triggers for shopping addicts. Guilt over purchases may be one trigger that encourages further shopping.
  • Consequences. Shopping addicts often encounter trouble related to their addiction, as they are spending too much time away from home, they are trying to cover up their addiction by lying, they begin to emotionally isolate themselves from others and they are so focused on their shopping that they ignore other relationships or responsibilities.
  • Loss of control. A shopping addict no longer has control of his or her shopping behavior.

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