We all love shopping, right? Well, maybe not love, but for most of us, there is that one thing – whether it’s books, clothes, gadgets, shoes, the latest piece of tech, makeup or whatever it is – buying gives us that little thrill of excitement when we get it home, or open the parcel. And that’s where the danger lies, in that little thrill. Because for some, that thrill starts to become necessary, they need more, and that’s when the enjoyment of shopping slips into a shopping addiction.

‘Need’ to Shop

Shopping addiction, or oniomania, is defined as a compulsive need to spend money, with no regard for whether the shopping is necessary or the shopper can afford it. Some people may tend to dismiss addiction to shopping, but it is, in fact, a serious mental health issue. Compulsive shoppers go to great lengths to fund their shopping addiction, often losing loved ones, running into massive amounts of debt and destroying their lives in the process.

Obviously, the physical problems associated with alcohol or drug addictions are not apparent in this case, but shopping addiction is still a very serious issue, which has an enormous impact on the life of the addict and their family and friends.

Committed Fraud to Fund Addiction

For Tunbridge Wells resident Klare Meyer, her addiction to spending money has resulted in the loss of her job, her freedom and, potentially, her baby son.

Klare worked as finance manager for an online company that provided members with loyalty points for shopping on certain websites. She found, and exploited, a loophole in the companies’ banking systems to allow her to transfer money from company funds into her own personal bank account. Over five years, Klare managed to fraudulently obtain £170,835 and also spent over £22,000 using company bank cards.

Unusually among compulsive shoppers, Klare spent much of the cash on her friends and family; her ‘gifts’ including meals out, clothes, flowers and family holidays. Admitting the fraud offences in court, Klare said she was ‘simply addicted to shopping’.

As a result of her addiction and the dishonest methods used to fund it, Klare has been sentenced to sixteen months in prison. She has offered to pay back everything she spent and is selling her home in order to fund this. At the time of sentencing, she was still breastfeeding her eleven-month-old son, but there is no guarantee that he will be able to join her in prison, so she may miss out on a crucial sixteen months of her son’s life too.

Glamorised

The high-spending shopaholic lifestyle has long been glamorised in the media, and reality shows like Keeping Up with The Kardashians portray the well-to-do spending money without thought, leading young girls, in particular, to want to emulate that lifestyle. And the 2009 romantic comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic, with the ‘heroine’ shown throwing away her credit card bills without even glancing at them, but then mending her ways after a series of comical events.

For those truly addicted to shopping, the reality is not nearly as much fun. Shopping addiction is compulsive behaviour, and there will always be an underlying cause for the behaviour. This could be depression, stress, relationship issues, anxiety, but whatever the precise cause, the behaviour produces a feeling of happiness or fulfilment in shopping addict which is missing for them in their everyday life. The behaviour is compulsive, and so the shopping addict will continue to shop, even though it leaves them unable to pay their household bills, or buy food or pay rent. This can create a vicious cycle where the stress of the debt building up sends them back to their favourite past-time – shopping, and so yet more debt builds up.

Treatment and Help to Recover

Treatment for shopping addiction is a little different to treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, as there are no physical withdrawal symptoms to deal with. With a compulsive behaviour like shopping addiction, the emphasis is on finding and treating the underlying reason for the addiction. This could include treatment for depression, building self-esteem or looking at stress management.

For many young adults faced with the constant bombardment of media with little understanding of money management, treatment could also include lessons in how to budget and manage their finances better.

If you feel that you, or someone you know, could be suffering from an addiction to shopping, Addiction Helper can help you to deal with this. Our highly-trained counsellors have experience in helping you to find the treatment that is right for you. They can explain the different treatment options to you, and help you to find the right treatment for your particular case. So please, contact us today, so we can help you to begin your recovery.

Sources:  Your shopping addiction is ‘as dangerous as drugs’ (The Evening Standard)