While not specifically related to chemical addiction in most cases, shopping addiction can still be a devastating experience that can have real consequences on a person’s life. This is especially true due to the use of credit cards, which can allow the addiction to spin out of control.
What fuels an addiction to shopping? The person is seeking an emotional boost from making an impulse purchase. Simple as that. The source of their discomfort might be varied, but the solution is always the same: spend money and buy something for themselves. They are using the idea of a “treat” in order to medicate their ill feelings. It is very similar to someone who is using food as a way to medicate their emotions. Instead, the shopping addict is using a purchase to do the same thing.
Note that they have to buy something for themselves in order to get this emotional boost that they are seeking. It is a treat for themselves. They are spending money on their own desire. This is the source of the emotional boost. What makes it an addiction? What makes it a problem?
The fact is that emotional spending does not work.
It is the same with any addiction….food, sex, drugs. The impulsive buyer ends up feeling relief for a very short period of time. Maybe only a matter of hours or even minutes…until they are back to feeling bad about themselves again and have a desire to spend more money. As an emotional boost, the impulse buy only satisfies the person for a very brief period of time. The person might buy something small and feel relief for a few hours. They may buy something more expensive and extravagant and feel relief for a few days. But this is not sustainable, as even very large purchases will fade after just a few days or a week at the most. A shopping addict could never possibly have enough money.
What is the solution? My opinion is that a strict program for moving past this type of spending addiction can be found in a book called “Your Money or Your Life.” There are other books out there about budgeting and spending discipline, but this one is a bestseller and a very good read. The idea is that you track everything, create a budget, and completely change your relationship with money. The program leads you to true freedom as you learn how to live well within your means, without feeling miserable. Highly recommended.