This is one of those topics you just never know how it will be received! My goal is to educate and offer support without judging, this is a subject near and dear to my heart as a Professional Organizer.
I see this the most in the closet. Most of my clients don’t have enough room in their closets to fit all of their clothes. I have to talk with them about how they got to this place and then we can move forward to organizing the closet. Letting go of the clothes can be a stressful event if not handled carefully. Many well meaning loved ones think that shaming the person will get them to purge and stop shopping, not true at all. In some cases, it can make the condition worse, much worse.
So, let’s be clear, a shopping spree is different than an addiction to shopping. There’s an emotional and behavioral experience that goes on with an addiction to shopping/compulsive buying, not unlike many other addictions. One of the essential distinctions is the euphoria one feels when they shop, it’s the “high”. Not unlike other addictions, there can be the following:
Shopping to feel good
Destruction of relationships
Accruing debt as a result
Feeling bad after shopping
Decreased self-esteem as a result of unintended shopping
Ironically, this addiction develops as rewarding one self to boost the self-esteem. The reward center of the brain likes the immediate personal gratification. This can backfire.
It runs high in families that have high rates of mental health or substance addiction issues.
Shopping addiction co-occurs with other disorders such as:
Mood and anxiety
Other impulse control
Even though the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize Oniomania as a distinct disorder, this is an addiction that affects 18 million people in the U.S. I have listed a variety of sites that can offer support.
1-888-480-5593 to find a shopaholic recovery program
Even if you don’t have a true addiction, this country has a serious infatuation with consumerism and material possessions. Here are a list of questions we can all use to keep our shopping in check:
1. Why am I here? Is what I am about to buy a real need or a want?
2. How do I feel? Am I experiencing Euphoria with a buyer’s high or buyers remorse because it’s an impulse buy?
3. Do I need this? Never hurts to ask….
4. What if I wait? Could you wait until you actually have the $ to buy this item without using a credit card?
5. How will I pay for it? Working on a cash only basis is really the best way to control spending. There is a real connection to the brain when pulling those dollar bills out of your wallet vs. handing a plastic card to the cashier.
6. Where will I put it? Our homes were not meant to be grocery store warehouses which is why we run out of room, how many rolls of toilet paper do you actually need? Are 25 pairs of shoes too many?
I know, this is controversial for so many of us. Could you possibly be walking the line to becoming an addict??? Do you know someone who is?
The funny thing is that the dollar amount is not what determines if you have an addiction. There are people who are addicted to shopping in the discount/dollar stores as well as the high-end stores. It doesn’t matter if it’s batteries, shoes or food.