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

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