By Jacqueline Havelka

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Introduction ................................................................................. 7 Chapter 1: What Is Shopping Addiction? ............................... 11 Chapter 2: The Psychology of Shopping Addiction . ............ 25 Chapter 3: Assessing Shopping Addiction . ............................ 37 Chapter 4: Preventing and Treating Shopping Addictions . ............................................ 53 Glossary of Key Terms . ............................................................. 70 Further Reading and Internet Resources ............................... 74 Index . .......................................................................................... 75 Credits . ....................................................................................... 79 Author’s Biography ................................................................... 80 KEY ICONS TO LOOK FOR: Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.



We live in stressful times. The COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and other ongoing challenges (such as poverty, racism, serious damage to the environment, job loss, financial distress, and the illnesses and deaths of loved ones) have raised stress to record levels. “These compounding stressors are having real consequences on our minds and bodies,” according to the American Psychological Association, which says that these and other problems are causing a “national mental health crisis” in the United States. The situation is the same or even worse in other countries around the world. As a result, many people are abusing drugs and alcohol more frequently and/or engaging in other addictive behaviors (such as gambling) to reduce stress and blunt the pain of the loss of loved ones, relationships, homes, or jobs, or other serious life events. One example is the rising number of drug overdoses, which have been fueled by the growing use and spread of the deadly opioid fentanyl. Nearly 100,000 Americans died from overdoses from June 2020 to June 2021—an 18.2 percent increase from June 2019 to June 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other addictions—such as problem gambling or spending too much time on social media or playing video games—are not typically physically



dangerous, but they can damage our mental health, cause us to lose focus on important things in life (e.g., our families, relationships, faith, or careers), and otherwise downgrade the quality of our lives. For those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or who have unhealthy relationships with food, gambling, or even shopping or social media, it can seem daunting to overcome these challenges, especially given the ongoing stressors in their lives. But there is hope for anyone who feels that they are controlled by an addiction or who seeks to otherwise rebalance their lives. They will have a bright future if they seek help with their addictions from friends and families, and, most significantly, from counselors, physicians, and clinicians (such as psychologists and psychiatrists). Each book in the Detoxing from series spotlights a major addiction; discusses the negative physical and mental effects of the addiction on the addict, as well as its effects on family and other loved ones; and provides an overview of treatment strategies for the addiction. Stories of those who are battling addictions are also featured to humanize these issues and help readers better understand that anyone—from young and old, to the wealthy, middle class, or the poor, to those who have a PhD or who are still in high school—can develop toxic relationships with drugs, alcohol, gambling, and/or other behaviors. The path to detoxing from drugs, alcohol, problem gambling or shopping, and other challenges will not be easy—and there may be bumps in the road. But there will be happiness, healing, and the opportunity for personal growth and success for those who continue walking on the road of recovery.



accrue: to add over time addiction: a disease of the brain in which a person has an overwhelming desire to ingest a substance or perform a behavior compulsive: showing an obsessive need to perform an action consequences: results of certain actions kleptomania: an irresistible urge to steal pyromania: an irresistible urge to set a fire ramifications: negative complications from a situation


1 Chapter

What Is Shopping Addiction? Shopping, Shopping, and More Shopping

We all shop. After all, a person must buy groceries, clothes, and other essential items. However, about 6 percent of Americans have a shopping addiction , which involves compulsive buying of things as a coping mechanism or a way to avoid negative feelings and anxiety. Research indicates that shopping addictions usually begin in the late teens or early adult years. Many people develop a shopping addiction as a way to boost their self-esteem or feel better about a negative situation that is occurring in their lives. The addiction affects both men and women. Due to the easy access to online shopping via the Internet, this addiction is on the rise worldwide. Lisa’s Story Prominent newspapers and magazines have covered personal stories of shopping addiction in an effort to increase awareness about the behavior. The New York Post published the story of Lisa’s shopping addiction. At the time of the story’s publication, Lisa was 56 years old, worked in a hospital as a registered nurse and was the mother of two


children. She very quickly spent $10,000 in savings, then proceeded to accrue $50,000 in credit card debt, and take out three bank loans without her husband’s knowledge. The addiction created problems in Lisa’s marriage. Lisa said she did most of her shopping between Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) and Christmas Eve. The sales and advertisements during that period were particularly enticing for Lisa, and she got a thrill from the last-minute impulse buying. She bought her young daughter a $1,200 necklace, and her son an autographed football that cost $1,000. She purchased several designer handbags for herself, as well as a $10,000 ring. Lisa did not have the money to make these purchases, but she said that buying these items gave her profound happiness. However, the novelty of the items soon wore off, and Lisa needed to buy something else to get that ecstatic (extremely happy) feeling back again. Compulsive shopping can often lead a person to lie about his or her finances. Lisa lied to her father to get him to cosign on a loan for her. Soon, Lisa was drowning in debt, and when her husband found out about the debt and the lies, he divorced her. Lisa sought help for her problem, and counselors helped her discover the reasons behind her shopping addiction. Lisa said that during her childhood, love had been expressed through material items and gifts rather than through hugs and kisses, so she began to associate shopping with love. Lisa remembers her mom shopping when she had a bad day or when she got into a fight with Lisa’s dad. Her mom called it “retail therapy.” Signs When is shopping normal, and when does it become an addiction? Most people shop mainly for what they need. Shopping may be a fun social outing with friends, and it may be a temporary escape to


Detoxing from Shopping

cheer one up from a bad day. We have all made impulse purchases or splurged on something we didn’t really need to buy. However, when shopping becomes the primary way to cope with stress, it has become an addiction. When shopping becomes so excessive that it is clearly creating negative ramifications in the person’s life, it has likely turned into an addiction. If a friend talks and thinks about shopping most of the time, this person may have an addiction. The person might be preoccupied with making purchases or with obtaining money to buy things. When shopping, the person may be unable to control spending habits. For example, a person may love a pair of shoes and may buy several pair, one in each color. After making the purchase, they may lose interest and never wear any of the shoes. Items may pile up in a person’s home, creating a tower of shame of the unnecessary purchases he or

Purchasing many pairs of shoes or countless sweaters—and never wearing them—is a sign that a person has a shopping addiction.


What Is Shopping Addiction?

she has made. The person may spend so much time shopping that they damage their friendships and other relationships. They might also develop money problems. Here are some additional signs of a shopping addiction: • getting a rush from shopping • spending money when angry, depressed, or anxious • feeling “lost” if not shopping and spending money • feeling guilty after shopping • purchasing items on credit even though they have no money • being obsessed over acquiring money to make more purchases The person will likely be a compulsive shopper, buying items they don’t need or buying several of one item. They will typically spend far

People who misuse substances like drugs or alcohol are much more likely to be compulsive buyers.


Detoxing from Shopping

more than they had planned to, and they do it every time they shop. Eventually, they begin to lie about purchases and how much they spent. The individual will continue to shop despite financial hardships or relationship problems. They are simply unable to stop shopping. Shopping Addiction Statistics Here are some interesting statistics from The Recovery Village, Statista.com, National Institutes of Health, and other sources about this form of addiction that will help you to better understand the dangers of becoming addicted to shopping and the pervasiveness of this addiction in our culture. • The majority of people (96 percent) admit making an impulsive purchase, but this does not mean they all have shopping addictions. • Women are nine times more likely to shop compulsively than men. • People with the disorder say they feel very anxious before a purchase and that buying the item relieves that discomfort. • In the United Kingdom, the average age for shopping addicts is 30. • People with shopping addiction tend to buy clothes, jewelry, beauty products, or technology. • About 85 percent of people with a shopping addiction will develop debt at a “worrying” level. • About one-third of compulsive shoppers are criticized by family and friends about their addiction. • About 65 percent of people buy impulsively via online shopping, while about 77 percent do so in a store. • About half of all compulsive shoppers purchase items because they are afraid of missing out on a great deal. • About one in four shoppers buys items they have never used.


What Is Shopping Addiction?

• The average American woman spends nearly 200 hours each year shopping for clothes, shoes, or similar items. By comparison, she will only spend 95 hours grocery shopping. • Many compulsive shoppers are also compulsive hoarders. The person is unable to part with the items he or she has purchased. Compulsive hoarders tend to collect items like books, magazines, boxes, receipts, and plastic bags. • About 2.2 billion people shopped online in 2021. • In 2022, people spent $5.5 trillion shopping online. • By 2023, the US was expected to have 300 million online shoppers, 91 percent of the population.


Confessions of a Shopaholic is a novel by British author Sophie Kinsella. It was later made into a movie. In the story, Becky Bloomwood lives in a flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood. She has glamorous friends and a closet filled with the latest fashion trends. The only issue is that she cannot afford this lifestyle. Her job doesn’t pay enough. Sophie is getting letters from her bank that her account is overdrawn. She tries to curb her shopping, but she just can’t stop. People need help with compulsive shopping. Research shows that shopping addicts have a hard time stopping through sheer willpower; in fact, 92 percent don’t have success on their own. The underlying problem must be addressed. Shopping is a coping mechanism, so the root cause must be explored.


Detoxing from Shopping

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