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Is Shopping Addiction an Actual Addiction?

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Is Shopping Addiction an Actual Addiction?

Certain behaviors such as thrill-seeking, sex, or shopping can become every bit as controlling and destructive as chemical dependency. On a biochemical level, these compulsive behaviors function in the exact same way as addiction to drugs or alcohol.

How Psychological Shopping Addiction Works

Addiction operates on a deeper and more powerful level than rational thought. The brain has an intricate system of chemical signals and receptors that control a wide variety of emotional functions; the slightest variation or deficiency in the balance of this system can lead to significant emotional distress and the formation of destructive behaviors. A wide range of emotional functions are controlled by this part of the brain including the following:

  • Sexual attraction
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Stress
  • Affection
  • Waking and sleeping

The same part of the brain that manages all of these functions also handles impulse control and the formation and reinforcing of behaviors. Any action that spikes these brain chemicals will be reinforced by the brain and may become a habit.

Is Shopping Addiction an Actual Addiction?

How Shopping Can Become an Addiction

Some behaviors cause a sort of thrill that can spike endorphins and other brain chemicals. Some people are more susceptible and sensitive to these spikes than others. Spending money – especially when a person knows he shouldn’t – involves risk and then the immediate reward of possessing whatever it was that was purchased. In this way, shopping can be addictive. Someone who has become addicted to shopping will be unable to stop even when her rational mind wants to.

Shopping Addiction Treatment

Recovery from shopping addiction is similar to recovery from chemical addiction. The first step is to detox, meaning to separate the person from the behavior for a time. But the real challenge to lasting recovery is the process of rehabilitating the mind from the psychological addiction. The most effective treatment facilities use an array of therapies including the following:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • 12-step programs
  • Education about the addiction and recovery process
  • Introduction to healthy new coping skills

Treatment can be done in a residential or outpatient format. Treatment experts can help individuals decide which type of program will be the most effective for their particular situation.

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